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An educational obligation outside the classroom

Editorial Board | Friday, September 24, 2010

Notre Dame students have plenty to say.

They talk about whether police officers will continue to arrest students for underage drinking. They talk about the 8-cent increase in the price of “quarter dogs.” They talk about whether we should give up on Brian Kelly three games into the season.

But as the midterm elections wind into full gear and Republican candidate Jackie Walorski challenges Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly for leadership of the 2nd Congressional District? Not a word.

The Notre Dame student body prides itself on being intelligent, well-rounded and committed to their education. But education is not limited to what is taught in the confines of DeBartolo Hall.

Staying informed about local, national and international issues is a key part of our education. More importantly, being able to talk about those events is critical to our success in the future.

It’s an election year where Republicans are threatening to take control of the House and the race in this district could help determine which party becomes the majority.

Walorski, who was raised in South Bend and currently represents the 21st district in the Indiana State House, is the conservative candidate for Congress. She was endorsed by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, according to Walorski’s website.

Donnelly, a Notre Dame graduate, is a moderate Democrat who was voted the eighth most conservative Democrat in Congress by the National Journal Magazine, his website stated.

The result of this race will not only affect the fate of this district, but it will also significantly affect the make-up of the House, and thus, affect the nation.

Many other races throughout the country, in students’ home states and districts, carry similar importance.

But for the majority of the Notre Dame student body? Not an issue.

Although student government and campus political organizations are doing their best to get students involved in local election issues, most students are busy catching up on the endless pages of reading, volunteering and not remembering their precious few moments of free time on the weekend — as they should be.

This is college. Our lives are jam-packed and so are our brains. We don’t feel like putting in the time or energy to stay informed about which candidate supports which bill or even who is running for congress in our district, because those are just extra facts that could replace ones we will be tested on.

As students, we understand this.

But in a few short years, we will not be judged by our performance on papers and tests, but rather on our ability to speak intelligently about issues of local and international importance.

Are we apathetic? No.

Are we too busy to care about important issues? Sometimes.

Are we uninformed? Dangerously so.

Three major national newspapers are offered in the dining hall for a reason — read them. Lectures are offered on campus examining the midterm election and other important issues — attend just one. Your peers may get belligerent on weekend nights, but they are all intelligent people who are capable of engaging in intellectual debate — talk about which candidate you support over those over-priced quarter dogs.

Learning for learning’s sake may seem like a noble, but impractical cause for many Notre Dame students.

But will we snag that dream internship if we can’t intelligently debate local, national and international issues? Not a chance.