Getting students excited about any ideology on the campus of Transylvania University has been historically difficult. As a liberal arts school, Transylvania encourages students to try different ideas. "Question everything. Accomplish anything," reads our motto.
An inherent problem with this is that Transy's students are over-involved. They put their energy into multiple clubs rather than one. Unlike 20,000+ schools like EKU and UK, where student organizations are more structured and demanding of their members, Transy makes it very easy for any student to be involved in anything: which means our students are spread thin.
One way students have suggested battling this apathetic culture is to merge the missions of multiple groups: for example, getting the Diversity Action Council to partner with the Black Student Alliance, etc. So, for our Incarceration Nation event, Transy YAL partnered with College Democrats to spread awareness of the very bipartisan issue of criminal justice reform, battling political divisions and apathy on our campus.
Positioned in the highly trafficked area of the front lobby in our cafeteria building, the vigor that our multiple participants showed and the social connections they had with passers-by (one advantage of a small school) garnered 68 signatures in support of criminal justice reform. That's nearly 1/12 of our entire student body. When presented with the facts, many students' faces lit up in agreement. Even our SGA president (below on the right) turned out to be a strong advocate.
Seeing Transy students get passionate, at least briefly, over important issues is a sign that our students do care: they just don't know how to channel it. Through YAL, we want to give students the opportunity to channel their concerns, to talk about issues objectively, and to participate in healthy political conversation. We want to be the all-encompassing organization for political activity, working with both College Republicans and Democrats to change the political culture of our campus.
Until next time, fellow activists.
Megan Graft, YAL chapter president at Transylvania University