Only a third of Castleton students feel they can make any meaningful difference in politics, according to a recent poll by the newly established Castleton Polling Institute. The poll was conducted last month using an e-mail questionnaire and received 134 responses.
Students say the reason they can’t make a difference is because they feel powerless in a political system that’s broken. Their perceived lack of knowledge and general lack of interest also adds to their feeling of helplessness.
“No one would care what I have to say; they are worried about their own agenda,” wrote one respondent, provided by Polling Institute Director Richard Clark.
Upon hearing the results, other Castleton students seemed unsurprised, saying they felt the same way.
“That doesn’t surprise me. I’m actually surprised it was that high,” said senior Nicole Mastropasqua.
Junior Zack Racenet agreed.
“Basically, the human race is fucked,” he said with a laugh.
English professor Andrew Alexander said he often sees the feeling of political powerlessness in his students’ persuasive and argumentative writing.
“They have hard time seeing how they can make a difference,” Alexander said.
Other poll results showed Castleton students have much less confidence in the military, organized religion, the police and the presidency than the general public.
Clark, the Polling Institute head who is also a political science professor, said he too expected student indifference – but it certainly doesn’t make him happy.
“It’s what we would expect, sadly. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. I’d love to see it change,” Clark said.
He also offered up a few tips on how to get students more politically involved.
“We know that people who vote young vote all their lives, and that people who connect things in their lives, like soup kitchens to political events they’re likely to be more active. If you keep young people talking about things that affect them, things like tuition, loans student loans, jobs, that those things will resonate with them, and they’ll want to make a difference,” Clark said.
Senior Sabina Peer agreed with Clark
“Stagnation is a very good description of politics, but in order to make change they need to do something about it,” Peer said.
While political apathy abounds, students clearly still care about baseball and the seemingly never-ending rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees.
As a fun question in the poll, researchers learned that 48 percent of Castleton students favor the Red Sox while only 16 percent support the Yanks. And by the way, 25 percent simply don’t care.