An informal college student survey on The Great 2013 American Government Shutdown
I teach freshman-sophomore level film courses at Minnesota State University Mankato, a mostly Division II (in terms of sports), 16,000 student university located in southcentral Minnesota amidst a vast expanse of monocropped corn and soybean fields.
My one class a semester meets once a week for 3+ hours where in I lecture a little, we discuss a little, and we all enjoy a film or several films (if they are short).
Last night, just for kicks, I decided to ask my students about their thoughts on the government shutdown, less than two days old. I decided that my first question should be whether any of their professors in their other classes had discussed or even mentioned the shutdown. Just one of my 112 enrolled students raised his hand. His macroeconomics class had discussed it. I asked if there were any conclusions. He said that about half the class felt that Obamacare was to blame.
Either all the other classes taken by all the other students in my film class had progressed in their normal way without any discussion of an important event that comes but once in, say, a quarter of a century, or the students were all shy or simply desirous of sitting on their hands.
So I decided to take a poll, the single question being: Who's to blame for the government shutdown? I gave them four choices ahead of taking the vote, then took the vote. These are the answers and the numbers for each in the order I asked:
- Who cares? 25 votes.
- Both parties are equally to blame. 40 votes.
- Republicans are primarily to blame. 9 votes.
- Democrats are primarily to blame. 3 votes.
If these students don't care to come to class, chances are they care even less about whether the government is shut down or not. Assuming this is true, that means the "Who cares?" vote moves into a clear plurality.
So much for engaged young people.