Milton’s Political Opinions Stay Online
by Shannon Peters on Friday, November 2nd, 2012
Everyone in King Theater goes crazy when Nelson Barrette (I), taking center stage, lightens the mood of Friday morning assemblies with his F.L.A.G announcements. His politically relevant jokes are entertaining and clever, yet Nelson frequently references the lack of students that attend the F.L.A.G meetings each Friday afternoon. Despite his success in earning our attention at 8 o’clock in morning, most students fail to show up to any political club meetings. Although Nelson’s announcements are always met with great applause, Milton students appear to remain politically uninvolved. Maybe F.L.A.G meetings, or politics in general, are the last thing on students’ minds on a Friday afternoon, but this lack of participation seems to be more the result of students’ reluctance to share their political views in public. Indeed, online, students do not shy from voicing their opinions on the upcoming election.
During the 2008 election, Barack Obama was a symbol of change and inspiration. The fact that Obama would potentially become the first black president of the United States presented American voters, both Democrats and Republicans, with hope and excitement. This national enthusiasm was infectious among young people. According to msnbc.com, the spike in participation among young voters in 2008 may have led to Obama’s becoming president: approximately 22 to 24 million young people voted in the 2008 election, at least 2.2 million more youth than in 2004. In 2008, younger Americans seemed to unite behind Obama’s campaign; now that many Americans are displeased with President Obama, however, the divisions between staunchly Democratic and Republican students have become more pronounced, and any of the unity from 2008 has largely dissipated. When Milton students log onto Facebook, they are likely to find various links and status updates favoring either Obama or Romney. Especially during the presidential debates, Milton students are constantly posting their opinions about both candidates on Facebook and Twitter. Four years ago, one would rarely find a student liking John McCain’s Facebook page, since even many Republican students found themselves supporting Obama. But because the student population lacks the relative unity it possessed in 2008, students are expressing more divergent political opinions on social networks.
Milton students definitely participate in politics; the majority of student expression, however, remains online rather than face-to-face with other students. Students are quick to aggressively post on Facebook, but when it comes to speaking out about one’s political views in public, they are significantly less passionate. This discrepancy between different forms of student participation raises the question of what Milton can do to facilitate more political discussion at school. Several history classes have already required students to watch the presidential debates as homework assignments and to discuss the results of the debates in class. Perhaps Values and Senior Transition classes can incorporate the presidential election into the curriculum. Or maybe F.L.A.G. and Young Republicans can host a Wednesday assembly dedicated to the election that all students, not just boarders, can attend. As of now, the majority of election-based conversation exists in extra-curricular groups; because some Milton students are eligible to vote, Milton should focus on incorporating the election into classes and assemblies as well. Student activism played a huge part in swinging the last election. Milton should make sure that students feel that their voices can be heard — and not just online.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=4086