State of the Union: Are Latin Students Well Informed?

Clare Hardiman On Tuesday, January 30, 2018, President Trump gave his first State of the Union Address (SOU). He addressed a plethora of topics, including the current economy, government functions, healthcare, international trade, borders and immigration, and national defense. Prior to the SOU, media sites predicted a boycott among Democratic viewers and lawmakers—and they predicted correctly. Fifteen Democratic senators did not attend the SOU, citing Trump’s unworthiness of Presidency, opposing views in regard to LGBTQ+ rights, or the White House’s racism as reasons for their boycott. These select Senators’ lack of attendance bears many questions, such as the importance of unity, informedness, and action. This news, and its role in politics in 2018 begs a different question of us —  how informed are Latin students? Did they watch the SOU this year? To understand the effect of this year’s politics on the Latin community, I interviewed four students: freshman Marianne Mihas, sophomore Nikita Volynsky, and seniors Liza Kanieski and Simon Stephanos. This year, none of these students watched the State of the Union, all citing homework or various commitments as reasons. That said, each of them also told me that they’d have definitely watched the Address if they had the available time. According to Marianne, “Regardless of how I feel about Trump, he’s the President of the United States and I feel like I should be informed about his plans.” Like many other students, Marianne believes it is important stay informed on President Trump’s actions because, regardless of political opinion, he makes the most important decisions for our country. Marianne adds that “the far majority [of Latin students] are [well informed], but I also think many of them just parrot what their parents say—I don’t know if they always formulate their own opinions given all they know.” In a similar facet, Nikita explained that “Latin implements a very one-sided view, though not necessarily in the wrong way, and everybody is required to recognize [that one side].” Liza adds, “I do think Latin students mainly know what is going on in our country, but I know I need to do more to be well informed.” Latin students are somewhat well-informed but sometimes also lack perspective; whether it’s at home or at school, some students may view certain issues from a one-sided standpoint. This lack of a universal perspective, which surely does not apply to all Latin students, can be attributed to many of us living in a politically-enclosed bubble, rather barred from seeing or understanding opinions besides our own. Additionally, Simon believes that “we’re higher than average, but I don’t think there’s a high political IQ. Before Trump, politics was always viewed as a side-interest, but after Trump, politics became stigmatized and a lot of people frankly don’t like it anymore because it crowds the news and the media.” As frustrating as it may be, politics define the functionality of our country. Thus, to necessarily educate ourselves on national issues, I recommend using the news app on your phone (if you have a news app) or downloading apps such as The New York Times, NBC News, BBC News, and CNN. Perhaps make a goal to spend 10 or 15 minutes a day looking at the news because it will heighten your awareness of important issues and decisions that are being made.  ]]>