Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Simple Civics

Yesterday, in my International Communication Systems class, I was appalled to find that my classmates were stumped by a simple question about the executive branch of their own country. The question posed was, "What is the highest diplomatic office in the United States?" Crickets, literally. Nobody even took a stab at it. "Are you kidding me!?," I thought. Of course I answered. I felt OBLIGATED. "Secretary of State!" I thought we learned this in 4th grade. What's going on? Was everyone zoned-out or did they really not know? At any rate, the professor was actually looking for the name of the person who holds that office currently. "Surely, now that they have heard the title, they can recall the name," I thought. Silence and blank stares once again. So, again, I answered. "Condoleeza Rice," I said in a reluctant voice.

I know my classmates don't always like to hear from me. I get dirty looks from them when I open my mouth. (I'm that annoying girl who has something to say about everything.) Honestly, though, if they can't even answer a simple civics trivia question, I don't particularly want to hear from them either. It isn't that I don't think these are intelligent people. They are. There is no doubt in my mind that these students can take what they're given and run with it, no matter what it is. I just find it disheartening that they weren't taught these things in school. Furthermore, it's hard to grasp that a room full of Journalism students have never had the curiosity to seek out such information for themselves. Perhaps I expect too much from my peers. Perhaps it is wrong to think that people who have chosen this profession would feel compelled to seek information for themselves rather than reading or looking into it as a result of an assignment. Is it then also too much to ask that journalists turn things on their heads rather than taking information at face value?

Granted, Butler is not known for its Journalism program per say, but these are still the future media practitioners of City X. Journalists, in my understanding, are obligated to be public servants. How can you report accurately without the basics? Beyond that, this university is somewhat difficult to get into and costs its students a whopping $40,000 a year to attend. Are we getting anything out of this astronomically priced education when we can't gather and analyze information independently and aside from our studies? Are we becoming good citizens of this country?

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