Campus activism brings attention to wide range of concerns

By Gus Bode

Factoid:For more information about voter registration contact the USG offices at 536-3381 or at the Student Center, third floor.

For many decades in the past, social activism has sparked national and global changes for the good of the people. These days, that spirit is brewing on college campuses throughout the United States.

Mother Jones magazine ranked 10 universities as the most proactive campuses in regards to a variety of today’s issues.

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While SIUC did not make the cut, different groups of students are bringing attention to concerns ranging from school housing to globalization.

For the past two weeks, the Undergraduate Student Government, with help from campus and community volunteers, registered students to vote for the upcoming elections Nov. 5. Registration tables will be set up on Thursday at the University towers and Friday at the Student Center. Already, 300 to 400 students have registered to vote in Jackson County, said, Joel Landry, USG Chief of Staff.

Landry said registering students to vote is much more efficient than relying on absentee voting, in which a voter must request and fill out an application and receive a ballot in the mail and send it back to the home county.

The effort of registering students is to encourage them to get involved with the political process, said Neal Young, USG Vice President.

“Everyone knows that college students are the number one group of non-voters of eligible voters,” Young said. “But generally, they’re the most progressive group of voters.”

Landry said USG plans to set up more registration tables next week. Non-registered Jackson County voters cannot vote in Carbondale for November’s election day.

Other than voter turnout, USG is also concerned about the housing policy requiring all single freshmen under the age of 21 to live only on-campus or commute from their parent or guardian’s home. The passed resolution against the policy is being reviewed by the administration.

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Meanwhile, Greg Padesky, a sophomore in journalism from Peoria, attends work sites with Habitat for Humanity every Saturday morning to help build homes for low-income families. He said the families pay for the homes at a reduced cost because the construction labor is volunteered.

“In effect, the houses are usually considered to be better constructed than regular construction site jobs because they don’t know any of the shortcuts,” Padesky said.

“I think people are gypping themselves by not participating in something like Habitat, because it is so rewarding and it is such a good cause.”

On a more broad issue, four SIUC students recently made a journey to Washington, D.C., to protest against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Raphi Rechitsky, whose arrest was captured on CNN, was one of them.

Rechitsky, a junior in sociology from Chicago, said he wanted to be a part of a movement that demands an economic system in which developing counties can have a fair share of the world’s wealth.

Developing nations are sacrificing domestic concerns to keep up with a globalized economy, he said.

“If you’re standing on the side and being apathetic, you’re not really being apathetic; you’re reconfirming the system that’s in place,” Rechitsky said.

Hugh Muldoon, director of the Interfaith Center, said college students should especially take a stand on social and political issues.

“It’s their earth and if they expect to live in a healthy planet and peace with their fellow humans, they have to help that happen. It’s just not going to be given to them. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Muldoon said. “Anybody in education needs to be literate about being peacemakers and knowing how to keep a sustainable environment, or else you have to question the value of their education.”

Reporter Jane Huh can be reached at [email protected]

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