As students walk around campus, they are subjected to countless messages scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk. There are advertisements for student groups, tailgating parties and Greek chapter events. But mixed in with the information on student life, much more important messages are chalked on campus thoroughfares, such as the ones that urge students to take responsibility and “Save Darfur.” Mohamed Yahya, who spoke Thursday, is one of several speakers who have visited campus this semester to raise awareness about Darfur.
Despite the general apathy that plagues this generation of college students, asking them to help stop a genocide on the other side of the world isn’t too much to ask. Many movements today struggle to reach college students, attempting to breathe life back into an institution that was once one of the strongest beacons of social change in the nation.
Now, with iPods, cell phones and laptops, most college students can create their own technological bubbles, where they can control the news and information they receive.
The inability to reach students – and the population at large – has resulted in movements becoming more hands-off than they have been in the past. College students who once marched on the capital now watch the world pass by on YouTube.
Now students buy T-shirts to show solidarity and spread awareness about HIV/AIDS, or eat at certain fast food chains to support the United Nations World Food Programme.
Instead of informing people about how to make a lasting change, social responsibility has been relegated to fashion statements.
While making contracts with retailers or selling shirts may raise awareness, issues like the one in Darfur need more. They need action.
It may be difficult for this generation to believe they can change anything or help end a genocide, but it is possible. Student outrage and protest over Pepsi’s dealings with the military regime of Burma led to the company’s removal from a number of campuses around the country. Other companies were targeted for dealing with South Africa during apartheid.
The same can happen here. Students can learn to not just become more aware of problems, but to actively take a stance. They showed they were capable of organizing for a cause and making personal sacrifices when they camped out overnight for something as trivial as football tickets.
It’s time for students to unplug and examine the world they are inheriting and the power that they are forfeiting.