Young Canadians ignore important issues

Despite all the information young people are exposed to today through television, the Internet and Smartphones, we still seem to hold a level of disengagement and overall ignorance of current events.

That’s not to say we’re completely disengaged from important issues.

Looking close to home, each year we manage to somehow surpass quorum for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union elections.

This year an astounding 20 per cent of our student body were not only aware that the election was occurring, but also chose to take part in the voting.

But that’s only 2,600 students – down from the previous year’s turnout of 2,800 students – who recognized the importance of the democratic practices of our union and care to have a voice in who governs it.

Given our disregard for our own campus politics, which we all directly pay for in up to $55.60 in union dues each semester, it is no surprise that students remain ignorant to our nation’s politics as well.

Our federal government has prorogued parliament twice since the last election.

The most recent has resulted in anti-proroguing movements online and rallies across the country, receiving ample amounts of media attention. Despite all the public discussion, there are still students who can’t even vaguely explain prorogation.

The lack of political engagement among our age cohort was clear at the anti-prorogation rally in late January held in Waterloo, where barely a third of the crowd of over 500 people were students.

Members of the Young Liberals and Campus Greens were involved; however, in a city with two universities and a college, the crowd should have been predominantly made up of young faces.

Furthermore, the winter Olympics this month has managed to captivate millions of young Canadians, making it nearly impossible for people to be unaware of death of the Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

Yet beyond being the homeland of the deceased athlete, the former Soviet nation remains undiscussed by Canadian youth. Few seem knowledgeable about Georgia’s continuous conflict with Russia, including the 2008 war that erupted in the state of South Ossetia which displaced tens of thousands of people.

Although the vast majority of students appear to be disengaged with politics and international affairs, perhaps it is because our interests are attached to other issues.

To date there are over two million people advocating for Facebook to stop changing their design layout through the group “CHANGE FACEBOOK BACK TO NORMAL!!”

A quick skim over the members list reveals a multitude of young people in their teens and early 20s working together towards a completely trivial goal.

That voice advocating for changes online also participates in the realm of reality, taking part in what is aired on television.

Over 33 million votes were cast during the course of the sixth season of Canadian Idol, giving Alberta’s Theo Tams the top spot.

Recognizing that these are the real concerns of our generation, it is no surprise that students can be overheard saying, “What’s the election for?” On the day of the WLUSU Annual General
Meeting, or the a quizzical look on their faces when confronted with the term prorogue.

Our world is more transparent than ever, with technology and mass media spreading information on current events instantly.

Young people, especially those of us fortunate enough to receive a post-secondary education and therefore learn to look at the world critically, have the opportunity not only to be informed but to make change.

There are countless mediums to have your voice heard and to influence the course of history.
However, for too many of us, it seems that our influence is centred on who will be the next Canadian Idol rather than the next prime minister.