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Academic life: what are we going to do about it?

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University equips young adults with the knowledge and tools that can be useful later on in life. But certainly the benefits a youth can gain by simply attending lectures and studying are extremely limited. While attending lectures takes on most of a student’s responsibility, this is not the only activity that such an instititution provides. For that reason, the present article has to be intended as a sort of analysis of the current academic situation with regard to student apathy.

Unfortunately, it seems that not enough has been done. We will never manage to reach the ideal situation because the tendency to progress/ regress, depending on the favourable or unfavourable circumstances, will always be present. This must not be thought of as a disappointment but rather as a fresh stimulus to constantly see how university life can be greatly enhanced. Passivity, the attitude of delegating, and increasing individualism are features that should be eradicated. The driving forces behind a better and more satisfying university are dynamic approaches, interest, curiosity, and an enhanced mutual learning through constant cooperation.

Considering the elections of the students’ representatives, I tried to elicit some information by asking many students on campus for their opinions in relation to the university (if they feel represented, if they feel part of a community, if they voted and the reason that justifies this vote).

Only 30% of students voted in the university elections while a striking 70% either has only little idea with regard to the implications of such an event or, more worrying, shows complete disinterest. Furthermore, among the 30% of students that voted, there is a tiny percentage who simply voted for their friends and acquaintances. For those it was not a real conscious voting.

Many students consider the elections to be a popularity issue (the general perception is that it is compared to playing cards: “2 options, SDM always wins, so i’m not going to waste my time”) . If this is the general thought, the only way to change it is by being more active and by participating more. We have to be the first, as young students, in approaching seriously the elections of students’ representatives. These representatives will be even more stimulated in performing their tasks to the best of their possibilities if they notice real interest from the majority of the students. What’s necessary is communication and the willingness to grow together to make a difference in a collaborative way, because extreme individualism will lead to more complications. No shyness, no fear: just the willingness to contribute and learn.

Many students tend to associate SDM and PULSE with the national politics, ie. with the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party. It’s not like this. If sometimes it may seem as such, let’s try to rectify it. If we tend to consider something in a certain way, then certainly that specific thing will acquire those characteristics just because of the fact that we conceptualised that peculiar aspect in that way. Do we want the academic environment to be a reflection of what’s happening at a national level? No, right? So, the only option to be more satisfied and contribute together to a more rewarding university lies in us, as students, participating by removing all the preconceptions. We have to consider the power of the collectivity. We can make a collective agreement and  say: “no connection between academic level and national level”. In this way, the situation will improve. Some influences will probablyremain there, but if we truly believe in this, those thoughts and concepts will certainly fade away. It all depends on us.

Others feel that there exists a need to reach out more effectively to us, to understand the students more thoroughly. There is the underlining necessity of a consistent presence within the council/ parties throughout the year. For that reason, there is a fervent opposition in relation to the strategic approach in order to get votes during the period of the elections.

Furthermore, there is the need for more transparency and credibility- putting too much on the agenda, only to have some of those proposals implemented by the end of the year does not help stimulate interest.

As far as I am concerned, I can perfectly understand all the reasons that the students I talked to gave me as a justification for not voting. But evidently, if the general tendency is to continue to behave in this way, the situation won’t improve.

There is the compelling necessity to work on fostering the communication. The students need to be stimulated constantly with regard to the possibility that they can live in a better and more productive way throughout their academic years. The situation can be improved if there is real commitment from both sides. The student body should develop a more open-minded attitude and interest towards what’s happening. The council should be more transparent in its work, be as clear as possible when it comes to successful or unsuccessful implementations of a proposal so that we, as students, are able to grasp all possible implications behind the work of the Council.

Some students told me that they had tried to get more involved in the past but the results were always the same and, for that reason, they gave up. This means that some still participate actively in what’s going on, others start and give up, others just come to lectures, study and go home, while others again expect someone to push them. This kind of situation is the result of the individualism that is ruling our society and that we are favoring by behaving in this way.

Improvement and satisfaction can come if we, as young students, manage to instill a sense of collaborative academic environment where there is the space for growth, sharing, and discussion. If we are aware of this situation, why don’t we try to do something about it? The change, a more satisfied academic life, is dependent on us, on how we approach the difficulties and how we deal with those stereotypes that blind our mind and the way in which we pursue our lives.

With this article I am not pointing fingers at anyone; I want to be clear because somebody may misinterpret what i’m doing by saying that I’m condemning the system or implying that KSU does nothing from day to night. Absolutely not. On the contrary, my aim is to analyse the situation, provide a clear picture of what’s happening in order to make students think about it. I intend to make them understand how the change, the satisfaction, the proactivity and the energy that should be intrinsic features of our young age can help us handle our academic years in a better way; if we undertake an active role in what’s happening, if we try to do what we can to improve.

And cooperation is the key, not individualism.

I would greatly appreciate feedbacks on this article. If someone has ideas, proposals or even disagree strongly with what I’ve just written, please contact me on geremia.graziano@hotmail.it.

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