Four years -- the amount of time it takes for a student to normally earn an undergraduate degree. In some cases, it can even take longer and yet students normally have small regard for their universities town or city.
My school, Elon University, is in Alamance County, North Carolina, and among other discrepancies, the county is being investigated for racial profiling. The U.S Department of Justice is looking into whether the Alamance County Sheriff's Office illegally targeted Latinos.
This kind of injustice might be a big deal on other campuses across the country but the normal student here seems oblivious to this glaring problem. Even if they do know of the issue, they quickly brush it off using various ideas to ease their consciences. That they feel they aren't full members of Alamance County may be one reason; the fact that their permanent addresses are in another state could be another.
Of course, you have the students who think being in college is a get-out-of-real-life card. They aren't officially "grown-up" yet, they can still hold off on all those "boring" things that their parents do.
This is why, a year ago, when Sheriff Terry Johnson was up for re-election, he was elected. Elon students didn't care and didn't even educate themselves on the problem. Now, we face even an bigger problem -- Amendment One.
This isn't just an issue affecting one county. Amendment One, if enacted, would define marriage for the entire state of North Carolina. It states: "Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."
It was clear that this bill confused people at first, and probably still does. When I have asked people about the Amendment, the response I normally get is something along the lines of, "the gay marriage bill?"
What people don't understand is that the bill is so much greater than that. This bill says that the only legitimate relationship in the eyes of North Carolina is that between a married, heterosexual couple. If you were a single woman or man, then the amendment might not have an impact on your life. But what if you meet someone? What if you start dating? You're covered if you get married. But what if you're getting a divorce? This obviously has a huge impact on the LGBTQ community, but there is an impact on the heterosexual community too.
The law in North Carolina already forbids same sex marriages, so is an amendment like this necessary? Is that the true plot behind this poorly written amendment?
In recent months at my school, there has been a huge push to get people educated and registered to vote, largely thanks to our LGBTQ community and its allies. Many of my friends unfortunately look upon this almost as some sort of burden, or something that doesn't involve them. They're not interested, they don't live here and they think it doesn't really affect them. I believe also that there is a mentality that this issue will just go away, or that it won't hold up in courts. The scariest thing I find about Amendment One is the fact that it is amending North Carolina's constitution.
This bill might not affect everyone right now, but it has the possibility to. Students have a unique opportunity to make a change. My hometown is New York City; I could never imagine this bill coming into play there and I know that I will leave North Carolina come my graduation. And yet I will be registering to vote in the state of North Carolina this month, even though I only have one more year here.
Everyday I hear students complaining about our government -- saying what is wrong, pointing out the flaws -- and yet little is done by them to fix these problems. It is so important that students register to vote and have a political voice. I'm not saying that everyone needs to go out and become a political science major, but it's so important to have some awareness and be able to count in our democratic system. If we don't take charge of our future, we leave it up to chance.