For the first time since 2011, the fountain in the Sombrilla is flowing, and students are taking notice. In a recent interview with the Paisano, City Councilman Ron Nirenberg highlighted what many college students fail to recognize: taken as a whole, young people simply don’t care about the world around them.
This problem is backed up by polls and surveys, but it doesn’t take a statistician to see how severe the problem is at UTSA.
Only a tiny minority of students — sometimes small enough to fit into a single lecture hall — vote in student government elections. Most students aren’t involved in clubs and organizations around campus. More students rely on hearing about current events from their friends and the rumor mill than from the evening news or visiting UTSA’s website.
It is not uncommon for members of UTSA’s student government to be elected with fewer than 100 votes. Even members of the Executive Board are lucky if they can garner votes from more than a tiny fraction of UTSA’s student body. Too many students at UTSA don’t seem to care about how they are represented, and this dilutes the student body’s voice in issues ranging from tuition to parking to having puppies on campus for finals week.
And this doesn’t just apply to student government. The Green Fund, which was originally approved by the student body through a vote on ASAP and is funded by student fees, has had difficulties formulating policies because of a lack of student interest. The Green Fund, in association with other student groups, developed an initial plan to bring a bike share program to campus. The first stage of the plan, a survey of the student body, revealed two things — that students who participated in the survey overwhelmingly favored the idea, and that very few students care enough to participate in a brief survey. Because of a lack of student input plans for the bike share program have stalled, just another example of how the apathy of our students is harming the university.
Of course the problem cannot simply be solved by students themselves. While UTSA has made strides to reach the student body (particularly in terms of social media) there is still a disconnect between the students of UTSA and its ad- ministration. Although reaching out to students is no easy task, UTSA’s administrators need to find ways to reach out to students and educate them about changes occurring around campus.
When a university’s student body takes more pride in a water fountain turning back on than in improving their parking situation or keeping tuition affordable there is a problem.