Speaker: Recent student apathy has ‘deadened’ college campuses

Abbie Moeller

Student apathy is a serious problem, according to internationally known civil rights activist Randall Robinson, who told his lecture audience to “make the administrators hate you” by protesting.

“Get involved in public policy — please do that,” Robinson said to about 80 people at the Memorial Union Wednesday night.

Robinson is the president and founder of TransAfrica, an organization that promotes civil rights, especially those related to U.S. foreign policy.

He said students have become apathetic, and it shows on college campuses that appear to be “deadened.”

Robinson said he is concerned for the future of the country “because our young people who have been the moral compass have fallen asleep at the switch.”

In the ’60s, students protested and cared about what was going on in the world, but today that is not common, Robinson said.

He not only admonished student apathy, but he said all Americans are “abysmally informed” and “stupid.”

“We don’t take the time to know and understand people of other cultures,” he said, which he said makes citizens uninformed on international policies and problems.

Robinson, who was born and raised in the United States, said he became an activist when he was a young adult after learning about America’s unfavorable involvement in many world problems.

“My country was on the wrong side of all these problems,” he said.

Robinson had a role in ending the South African apartheid by staging protests for 400 days in front of the U.S. embassy.

He also regularly speaks to the U.S. Congress about injustice and discrimination.

“We are a deeply race-divided society still,” he said.

History is important to Robinson because he said it defines people and countries. He said when people do not know their history and the histories of other countries, they cannot understand themselves or others.

“If you don’t know your history, you don’t know who you are,” he said.

Robinson said people should be interested in what is going on with domestic and foreign policies and look at the motives behind them.

“Things are seldom what they seem in American policies,” he said.

Robinson’s speech was sponsored by the African Student Association and the Committee on Lectures, with funding by the Government of the Student Body for 1999 African Week.