By Terry McCafferty ‘22
Late last year, a survey constructed by the Student Senate and initiated by the current Student Senate president, Dillion Gallagher ‘19, was completed by about 330 (or 24%) of the students at St. Ignatius High School. The intent behind the survey was to reveal the degree to which the student body was civically engaged. The information that was collected showed some fascinating trends and brought the topic of civic participation to the table.
Results of the Civic Participation Survey
One of the first questions on the survey, which asked about how informed students are, showed that Ignatius students tend to think that they are fairly well informed on political issues. The following question revealed that students attempt to foster views with some independence from their parents’ influence and pointed to a strong trend in responses saying students have strong care for the voting system and for the many issues facing our world.
In addition to those pieces of information, the survey also posed questions regarding how students choose to stay informed, whether or not Catholic Social Justice teachings influence students opinions, and whether or not they saw Student Senate as a form of participation in the school community. The top two ways that students said they stay informed were news articles/print media and discussions with people who have different opinions than them. However, in third and fourth place were social media and discussions with like-minded people. The results to the question on the effects of Catholic Social Justice teachings implied that while some students have views closely aligning with teachings, many are only somewhat aligned and a few are not aligned at all.
Lastly, the results of the question asking, “Do you see student government as a form of participation in your community?” received a variety of answers revealing no consensus on this topic. One student wrote, “Right now I don’t see student government as a major factor in my community. I think that there should be more awareness around the important issues and knowledge about how the government works as a whole.” Another response contradicted this stating, “It gives students an opportunity to have civil discussion[s] and form unique ideas. The students can build off of one another, giving everybody an opportunity to speak and exchange ideas.”
Why be civically involved, and how?
Reflecting on the survey, Gallagher ‘19 wrote in his update for the Board of Regents, “All in all, this survey has sparked a fascinating discussion about the roles that politics and civics play in students’ lives… It will be my job going forward to ensure that my peers and I are given the resources, skills, and ethics needed to leave these halls and go into the world an informed, well-educated citizenry capable of and equally skilled in both compassion and critical thinking.”
Seeing that the students attending St. Ignatius with a wide array of backgrounds are constantly developing their opinions and views as they grow and learn, and noticing the fact that in our country today we have the gift to be able to participate in the governmental system, it makes sense that more and more students are going to rallies, keeping up on the news, and being an advocates for the positions that matter to them.
Despite this, there are still some students who are uninterested or don’t care enough to be civically involved citizens, and yet others don’t know how or where to start. However, the good news for them is that Saint Ignatius High School has quite a few easy ways for its young men to get informed, get involved, and start participating in their community.
The most obvious example of these ways are some of the organizations and extracurriculars that the school has. Here are a few groups any inactive student could consider joining:
- The two “Informed Ignatian” clubs (the Conservative Caucus and the Democratic Ignatians on Politics) and the Current Events Club all offer regular meetings to discuss politics and get involved in politics.
- Student Senate offers its service projects and other initiatives for action.
- Model United Nations, another great way to get informed about issues, is a student-run forum for researching and discussing national and international affairs, which includes preparing for and participating in several regional and national MUN conferences.
- Another way to participate is to share your opinions with the school by writing a letter to the EYE.
- Perhaps one of the best ways to get involved in the community is through service with CAT, which meets every Thursday at 3:00 in Loyola Hall room 227.
To learn more about these easy opportunities and all of the other ways St. Ignatius offers to become a more participatory citizen, listen to or read the announcements or go to www.ignatius.edu/students/extracurriculars and never forget: the future of the world depends on people who participate in the affairs of their local, national, and international communities.