Walking around campus, it is hard to miss the chatter going on about politics.
It seems that of late, everyone is talking about politics. When I was a first-year student at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, it was an election year, but the most political conversation I had with a peer was, “Hey look! Someone brought a llama onto campus! … and who is the guy the llama is campaigning for?” (Note: It did not matter to me who the llama’s owner was endorsing – I literally just wanted a picture with the llama.)
I have since tried to engage in activities that are good for responsible citizenship and necessary to get through graduate school at St. Thomas, such as watch the news, read the newspaper and generally be more aware of the world around me.
But one thing that is obvious to me is that the undergraduate students I work with are already doing these things and are incredibly attuned to the world around them. They have great opportunities for conversation with their peers. For most of them, there will be no other time in their lives in which they will be surrounded by such diverse perspectives.
So this brings me back to politics. We are less than two weeks from the elections. For many St. Thomas students, this will be the first presidential election they can vote in. As the political climate intensifies, I want to encourage students to engage in conversation with one another. One skill that is the hardest to learn and the most rewarding to exercise is the ability to have a conversation, disagree with your peer, shake hands at the end and walk away knowing more about another perspective and, ultimately, your own perspective.
One of the best ways to learn more about yourself and your stance is to be challenged. Challenge is good. Challenge makes us think. Seek out conversations that bring meaning and depth to your life.
And don’t just take a picture with a llama … talk about what your “llama” means to you.
Jordan Zahrte, a new contributor to The Scroll, is a student in the Master of Arts in Leadership in Student Affairs program at St. Thomas and hall director for John Paul II Residence Hall.