Once again, we’ve come to the end of another long year at Knox College, which means we’ve gone through weeks of grueling academics, time-consuming extracurricular responsibilities and stress headaches from trying to deal with our roommate’s latest annoying habits. Yet when we leave here in just a little under a week, we’ll miss everything, and everybody, associated with this place. All of us underclassmen will travel to our summer internships or part-time jobs, explaining to our employers why we are returning home late and that we’ll be able to work at least until the first week in September, when we can come back.
The seniors, on the other hand, will be walking across the stage a week from Saturday and crossing from the “Knox bubble” into the “real world.” They’ll be looking for jobs or getting ready for graduate school, all of which they’ll be able to accomplish despite the floundering economy with their newly-earned Knox degree. They will be sorely missed on campus, as always. But they’ll make room for a new freshman class that will inevitably bring a new and unique vibe to our community.
Looking back on this past year, one of the most memorable moment for me was election night last November. For those on campus who decided to celebrate President Obama’s election, it was a moment when students from several different backgrounds, major departments and ideological interests were simultaneously brought together to express their excitement over the candidate they elected. Students gathered together in a mob and ran shouting chants throughout campus, and indeed throughout Galesburg, eventually singing the National Anthem in a local park and dancing to spontaneous jazz music outside of CFA. Where else could you be part of such a scene than a college campus?
What was most exciting about that night, though, was not necessarily that students spontaneously reacted in the same way. It isn’t a stretch to think that a large number of students would support the democratic candidate at a small liberal arts school. It was the notion that, for the first time, many of these students were able to participate in the democratic process and saw their votes as mattering on a national scale. Indeed, a larger number of voters, young voters in particular, voted in the 2008 presidential election, wonderful news for a country dependent on the participation of its people.
Just last week, Knox had its own elections for Student Senate, which also yielded a large number of voters on campus. This is significant because it shows students’ interest in Senate and school politics in general. Students should be involved in the decisions that are made to affect their lives. They should attend Senate meetings and Student Life Committee meetings to stay informed. These meetings are open to students and raising issues during them can make a difference.
Whether we are graduating into the world or sticking around Galesburg for a few more years, as young people it is our job to make a difference, because we can.