During the 2008 election season, political mumblings about who supported whom and for what reason quickly led to lunchtime debates, between-class conversations, public demonstrations and even drinking games.
At a community as diverse as USC, such mumblings take on new meaning.
During this year’s “election semester,” students are presented with the biggest opportunity to explore a huge range of beliefs, values and ideals in order to form their own.
Yet amid the never-ending flow of opposition and polarization that defines politics today, it is difficult to know exactly where to stand.
Two years ago, MSNBC’s Nightly News broadcasted an interview with former President Jimmy Carter, who was quoted as saying that the United States was more polarized then (in 2010) than during the Civil War.
Carter’s quote could also be extended beyond the red and blue states to the current schism in Washington.
In D.C., a microcosm of the country as a whole, there exist a few drastically different ideologies regarding which direction the nation needs to go next.
But instead of actively seeking to bridge these differences and arrive at a compromise, political parties sling mud at each other, each hoping they will emerge from the metaphorical war as the victor.
Between an increasingly polarized Congress, attack ads and seemingly contradictory information coming from all directions, it can be difficult for voters to make informed judgments and decisions.
Yet college students are in a place where many differences — in backgrounds, interests, languages, cultures — collide and merge instead of clash and divide.
Do you think a certain way because of how you were raised or because of what has happened to you? Do you form your opinions because of where you are from?
Regardless of the reason, being exposed from students of all walks of life can take your political and personal beliefs in a fresh direction.
This is one of the biggest advantages of being a college student during the election — drawing from the experience and knowledge of others to learn about who you are and what you believe in.
Many students, however, will miss out on this rare opportunity.
Some might forgo researching the candidates, just voting because they have the opportunity to do so.
Some might skip the election entirely for various reasons — apathy, lack of knowledge, mistrust of the government or thinking one vote out of a million won’t change the current state of our country. Perhaps it won’t.
On a deeper level, however, voting is a rite of passage, an opportunity to shape the country’s future and your own.
By deciding to go to college, you are deciding to become a member of an elite group, joining some of the most educated people in the country.
Unequivocally, it is a chance to learn more, do more and be more than you ever thought you would be.
Even though politics can be annoying and the arguments unnerving, election season is the most exciting time to be a college student.
Take advantage of that.
Joshua Ferguson is a graduate student studying strategic public relations.