The 2016 Election and a Rigged System: The Faculty Advisor’s Take
By Noah Roderick
The Vitruvian is a young publication, and we have not been around to cover any previous presidential elections. And so we’re particularly excited to have both Republican and Democratic perspectives from Lourdes students in this issue. We’re grateful for our contributors, but we would love to see more political writing in the future.
As faculty advisor to The Vitruvian, it is not my role to editorialize or to endorse a candidate. In this most contentious of elections, however, I feel compelled to offer one endorsement: The Vitruvian itself. Many people in this election cycle – from both the Right and the Left – have been talking about a rigged system. And they’re absolutely correct. But to be clear, there is absolutely no evidence of widespread voter fraud, nor is there a shadowy cabal of the super-rich pulling all of the strings in the media and government. The truth is infinitely subtler than that. While many of our policies and institutions do indeed favor the most privileged members of our society, the rest of us are also complicit in this rigging every single day. We are complicit whenever we choose the path of least resistance. The system is rigged to make it easy for us to seek refuge from the mounting pressures of twenty-first century adult life in our own social bubbles and material dreams. In the short term, this is a much less stressful way to live one’s life. But the long term consequences are an increasing feeling of powerlessness and a growing certainty that the system is indeed rigged.
Not everyone is lucky enough to attend college, but for those who do have that privilege, it can be a time where one consciously decides whether or not they will spend the rest of their lives in their comfort bubbles where their relationship with wider world exists on a need-to-know-only basis. And if you’re lucky enough to attend Lourdes University, you should know that the faculty and staff here pour their hearts and souls into making sure that you are able to make that decision consciously.
But there again, the system is rigged. Your personal future is murky; your financial outlook is shaky, and college is more expensive than ever. The path of least resistance is to think of college as a transaction in which you give your money and your time, and in return you receive skills and a certificate. But if after four or five years, all you have are skills and a certificate, you should demand your money back from the institution and your time back from yourself. If the authority figures in your life have convinced you that a university education is about acquiring skills for one particular job, then, I am sorry to say, you have been duped. Even in the professional disciplines (e.g. Nursing, Business, Education), only about 10% of what you’ll be learning is skills; the rest of it is ideas. Which means that if all you have graduated with is a skill set for a job, then somewhere along the way you will have lost 90% of your university education. That hardly seems fair. That seems rigged.
Whereas skills are learned through demonstration and repetition, ideas must be cultivated far and wide. Skills can be passed down from one person to another, but ideas need whole communities in which to grow. And your family, your circle of friends, and your Facebook network cannot be that community. Those groups tend to reinforce what you already know and believe – they offer the path of least resistance. They cannot foster the sort of intellectual curiosity and competition of ideas that come with a real education. Your classroom can be that community of ideas, but you need more than that. You need to take an active part in creating the community of ideas.
That’s where something like a student news publication comes in. When you contribute your ideas to a publication like The Vitruvian, you get to decide what you want others to know, rather than being told by someone else what you need to know. We happily accept writing on all kinds of subjects, and you do not have to think of yourself as a skilled writer in order to contribute. All that we ask is that, instead of resigning yourself to your place in the rigged system, you take the small but courageous step to dare yourself and your community to know. Sapere aude, Lourdes!