Speak, Stand, Sit or Scream? How Young People Engage Politics and the World in 2016
This town hall-style discussion is for the young people on campus to talk about their experience of public life and politics today. Is "millennial" a meaningful term, and does it apply to you? How are you experiencing the toxic political rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign, and the polarized national politics more generally? How should students respond to the great tensions in this country over racial justice and identity, economic class, war and peace, student debt, a tight job market, and general anxiety about the future?
Bring your perspective as a Boston College graduate or undergraduate student, and let's talk about civility, dissent, populism, civic anger, civic virtue, Jesuit and Catholic values, and much more!
On September 28, the Boisi Center hosted Boston College student leaders Craig Ford, Jr., GSAS ‘18, Theology (PhD); Najat Goso, MCAS ‘18, Communications; Isra Hussain, MCAS ‘17, Psychology; and Russell Simons, MCAS ‘17, Biology. The talk was organized in a town hall format to encourage audience participation and was moderated by Boisi Center interim director, Erik Owens.
Panelists praised Boston College’s Jesuit values and culture of social justice, but lamented that many students’ experiences at BC includes only transient commitments to service and community engagement. They felt that, in practice, there is a clash between Jesuit- and BC-inculcated values and the values students embody in their personal life. Hussain pointed to the difficulty of being “men and women for others” in everyday life. Goso also spoke about the importance of moving beyond the insular “BC bubble” and engaging the larger community and world.
Simons pointed out that in order to have real, honest conversation you have to engage with other people in ways that make you uncomfortable, and people generally don’t like to be uncomfortable. Conversations like this need to happen in small groups for empathy to grow. Ford called on the administration and student body to examine the “structurally disadvantaging forces” that face people of color, the LGTBQ community, and women. We need to have “brave and awkward” conversations about white supremacy, heterosexism, and sexism. Ford also spoke about socioeconomic inequality on campus.
Panelists also discussed the prevalence of complacency on campus, and an overall lack of civic engagement. Goso noted that only a small fraction of the student body is receptive to many clubs’ and organizations’ messages, and that this group tends to be comprised mainly of students of color.
Shafer, Leah. "Civics in Uncivil Times: Facing Down the Challenges of Teaching the 2016 Election, With Resources for Preparing Engaged Citizens." Usable Knowledge: Connecting Research to Practice. September 14, 2016. http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/16/09/civics-uncivil-times.
Kirchick, James. "Blame Millennials for President Trump." The Daily Beast. September 16, 2016. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/16/if-america-elects-a-president-donald-j-trump-blame-millennials.html?via=newsletter&source=Politics.
Lampert, Martijn and Sheikh, Haroon. "Millennial Values: What the Young Want Around the World." Foreign Affairs. July 6, 2016. http://fam.ag/2djHsKk
"What College Students Know (and Don't Know) About the World." Council on Foreign Relations. September 13, 2016. http://www.cfr.org/polls-and-opinion-analysis/college-aged-students-know-dont-know-world/p38264
"Youth Voting in the 2016 Primaries." The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. July 27, 2016. http://civicyouth.org/youth-voting-in-the-2016-primaries/.
In the News
According to an August 2016 report published by the Pew Research Center, Millennials and members of Generation X now constitute the majority of eligible voters in the United States, replacing Baby Boomers and those born in prior generations.