BY SHRUTI RAM – STAFF WRITER
Students often say that Centre College is not the typical liberal arts college in terms of how liberal the minds of the students actually are. While being home to many out-of-state students, Centre has managed to retain a level of conservative attitudes that are unlike most other liberal arts colleges. The Cento wanted to explore how Centre students feel about social issues, and which ones they felt were the most important, especially in light of the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.
It turns out that the issues that Centre students think should be addressed are very diverse. Junior Kortney Trevino thinks that the wealth distribution in the United States is the most pressing of these issues.
“They’re [many big issues] but I think the one that currently needs to be addressed the most is the financial distribution of the country,” she said. “So many of the issues can be traced back to that, to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Now the market does need to provide some incentive for doing well, and I’m not suggesting total financial equality, but the way we’re going now is truly ridiculous and something has to change and soon. This isn’t the issue of just those below the poverty line, but it’s a middle class one as all. So few people even know about it or talk about it and it’s just unbelievable that something that has such an impact on our lives everyday isn’t even on of the main issues we’re talking about.”
On the other hand, junior Kevin O’Leary thinks one of the most important social issues that needs to be discussed is abortion.
“The problem with the issue [of abortion] is I feel like the dialogue of that topic is so polarized that we can’t even have an intelligent discussion about it,” O’Leary said. “I feel like it’s an issue that we’re always on the cusp of making progress on but don’t.”
Another issue O’Leary finds important is immigration policy.
“As strong as I feel about abortion, immigration is one of the more salient issues,” he said. “And I think just given recent legislation, it is a realm where a lot of progress has been made and one we’ll continue to talk a lot more about in the future.”
Junior Mason McClay thinks that an important social issue that does not get enough attention is mental health.
“I think mental health definitely needs to be talked about more,” McClay said. “Mental health is complicated because it’s integrative. It is dependent on the interactions of the general social structure. For me, I think one of the biggest moderators of mental health is environment, especially during development, which directly implicates education. We don’t talk about it enough, especially in American society.”
While many Centre students have specific issues in mind when it comes to social problems that should be addressed, others think that it is overarching ones that deserve the most attention, as they are the cause of many social issues.
“I really think that the biggest problem facing this country today is that our culture is permeated with close-mindedness, and many people don’t realize this,” senior Kaitlin Parrish said. “On one side, we have unwillingness to recognize privilege, the hardships others face, and the realities faced by people different than ourselves.”
Parrish expanded her frustration to structural issues within the political realm.
“This is on both sides of the aisle, liberal and conservative. Not all Democrats are free-for-all-socialists and not all Republicans are bible-thumping, anti-gay, and anti-progress. The two party system frustrates me. Really, to me the root of all resistance to progress is close-mindedness. If each person thinks they’re right, [or] are the most educated person on a topic, then they will be the loudest person in the room and/or unwilling to open their mind to new perspectives.”
No matter what their views on a specific social issue are, it is clear that the ones that Centre students personally find most pressing differ from student to student. Whether it is environmentalism, women’s rights, healthcare, or something else entirely, it remains to be seen how these issues are resolved and handled in the government. For now, all we can do is start a discussion.