President John A. Fry proudly introduced “Distinguished Visiting Fellow” Joseph Torsella at the National Constitution Center April 1. The center founder’s lecture, attended by board of trustee members, focused on the current political polarization of the United States and how this problem may be solved. He also addressed the important constitutional concept of popular sovereignty, which helped unite the states. While Torsella complemented Drexel’s commitment to political engagement and the Constitution, we, the Editorial Board of The Triangle, think it is questionable whether those commitments really extend to the students.
For one, most Drexel University students do not take classes in government, let alone American government or the Constitution specifically. Engineering students in particular may have only a few free electives they could use for this purpose, and they are hardly encouraged to do so. If Drexel is to be “the most civically engaged university in the United States,” it must offer a reasonable opportunity for civic education. Ideally every student would graduate with at least some college-level schooling in government.
The other side of the coin is that Drexel’s campus is surely one of the least politically active in the country today. Co-op and the 10-week term leave students thoroughly uninterested in political topics. It is bizarre to think that in Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold, the Drexel Democrats are few and hard to find. The University Republicans are certainly never heard from.
Now is ideally the season to change that. Primary elections for the next mayor of Philadelphia are May 19, and Ted Cruz became first to declare a run in the 2016 presidential election. Certainly there are many important topics being discussed today, including fracking and the death penalty in Pennsylvania, as well as police brutality and a host of foreign affairs issues at the national level.
Therefore we encourage everyone to be politically active this spring term. Register to vote or volunteer for a candidate — the latter, especially if you cannot vote. Write letters to Congress. Protest and hand out flyers. If nothing else, keep up with to the news and discuss the issues with your friends. While being a student can be a burden, everyone has at least some opportunity to participate.
And don’t be afraid to start locally. Drexel’s own student government is gearing up for its elections on May 20.