CSU Reacts: How has campus culture been impacted by politics?

Nick Botkin

Girl sits answering questions.
Junior political science major, Jessica Zamba, comments on the political change on campus while sitting outside the Behavioral Sciences Building. (Anna Baize | Collegian)

Politically, the past year may remind you of the movie “Groundhog Day.” In the 1993 movie, Bill Murray repeats the same day over and over.

It may seem like a similar situation politically. Another rally, another protest, another late-night tweet. Daily, one might also hear partisans on either side being branded Nazis or socialists.

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How has the political ambience impacted the Colorado State University campus? Are students as equally polarized? What are the solutions, if any?

“It has gotten tenser between students on opposite ends of the spectrum,” rangeland ecology senior Genevieve Arnett said.

Arnett said polarization has pervaded the classrooms.

“Viewpoints being expressed tend to be more drastic and less moderate,” Arnett said.

Lita Hernandez, a senior fish and wildlife conservation biology major agrees.

“There are some people who like to bring up politics,” Lita Hernandez said.  “And when it is brought up, they like to be assertive.”

Lita Hernandez added that she has seen such debates in the Plaza. However, she prefers to shy from the fracas.

“I do not go out and seek conflict,” Lita Hernandez said. Lita Hernandez added that there is no way of winning, given the extremist nature of the discourse.

Some students also mentioned the on-campus physical confrontations  between white nationalist and antifascist activists this past Friday.

“I think it is ridiculous,” sophomore art major Joanna Vaccarello said. “They should take it somewhere else.”

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 Vacarello thinks politics on campus in general are “distracting.”

“It is always a negative,” Vacarello said.

According to a Pew Research Poll, Republicans and Democrats have their own internal divisions. In particular, Republicans are divided on issues such as American involvement internationally and immigration. Democratic divisions include governmental regulation of business, along with theological issues.

Others said the political climate has its pluses.

“I would say people are more politically aware than they have been before,” junior political science major Jessica Zamba said.

Zamba thinks being politically engaged is imperative.

“The political encompasses your entire life,” Zamba said. “Ignorance is not something you can really take into account.”

Like many students, however, Zamba thinks people are unwilling to listen to other perspectives. She said when groups hold on-campus events, there is always swift backlash.

Kate Hernandez, a sophomore communications major, thinks the university offers a strong support system.

“I am pretty liberal,” Kate Hernandez said. “I would say on a college campus I would get the support of a lot more college students.”

Viewpoints being expressed tend to be more drastic and less moderate.” -Genevieve Arnett, rangeland ecology senior”

Kate Hernandez added that the school offers support for people on both sides of the political spectrum.

“CSU supports the First Amendment, which is fair,” Kate Hernandez said. Kate Hernandez cited the university’s decision to allow members of the controversial Traditional Worker’s Party to demonstrate on campus.

Kate Hernandez said the height of the political action on campus  was during the 2016 presidential election.

“I think when tensions are high, that is when people are standing up for their rights,” she said. Kate Hernandez said there has been a lull in the political climate recently.

What is the solution to creating a more beneficial political environment?

“To be more considerate of what others are saying even if you are 100 percent sure you are right,” Arnett said.

Kate Hernandez agreed.

“We at CSU have to co-exist,” Kate Hernandez said. Kate Hernandez added that we need to become a collective unit as fellow Rams.

Her solution?

“Go to different events,” Hernandez said. “See everyone else’s point of view.”

Engaging in political dialogue requires something more, Zamba said. “Ask questions.” 

Collegian reporter Nick Botkin can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com. His Twitter handle is @dudesosad.