Is there a Gaucho Global Disconnect?

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Mariela Vasquez

Staff Writer

Global affairs are always occurring, so it is simply impossible to stay updated on all that is happening in the world on a daily basis. But, is there a growing disconnect between the college and global spheres? Are global events being undercovered? Or is there simply a lack of listening occurring when there should be? The college-global bubble is bigger than it seems, and if there is time and energy spent wisely, we can lessen the gap between college and the rest of the world.

It’s highly unrealistic to stay updated on all the world’s occurrences. However, we all have our own values and the chances of finding something we’re more interested in and will do further research on is high. As a global studies major, it’s easier for me to stay on top of certain events since my classes usually cover them. Being exposed and introduced to various classes has definitely fortified my value system — especially in regard to politics. 

Courses as an avenue to expand one’s education can be especially prevalent among college students. There are always opportunities for important discussions (though, not at the expense of somebody’s emotional labor) to take place, and a diverse group of people conjoined in one section can introduce new outlooks. 

Furthermore, there are a multitude of opportunities to connect and network with other students. Political organizations on campus like UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Mauna Kea Protectors and Students for Justice in Palestine both focus on liberation through education.

Academic institutions tend to be a melting pot of several different backgrounds, and UCSB is no exception. For the 2021-22 school year, about 64 percent of enrolled undergraduate students were students of marginalized communities. Attending a predominantly white institution as a marginalized person can be isolating, but luckily, cultural organizations assist in providing community. These organizations also host events that can enhance one’s education of a certain culture, so it all depends on participation.

Social media is another prominent and accessible medium to gain information. In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine and it elicited international backlash, with news outlets and Ukrainians utilizing social media to document the horrific events. The presence of the internet was essential to how widely known the events became. Another event that is currently being broadcast online is the United States (U.S.) foreign intervention in Haiti

After being the only Black-led country in the world to have enslaved peoples lead a successful revolt and gain independence, Haiti has been unable to administrate their own affairs because of international interventions. Several Haiti civil society groups oppose the Haitian government’s request to foreign military to restore order. That’s also another aspect of global news to take into account, whether the sources are credible or not. 

When I’m in the Davidson library, for example, and far away from both countries, I could still utilize the technology at hand to know more about these events. 

Attending college makes it extremely easy for one to be wrapped up in their own affairs. Between classes, organizations, and jobs, time does not come easily to the average college student. Functioning within these time constraints results in necessary conscious actions. For instance, it was not until a week ago that I realized I had to consciously set time aside from my schedule in order to eat, an unsettling realization. Existing in an academic institution requires an extensive amount of one’s time. The lack of time can easily contribute to the growing bubble of college and a global disconnect, particularly on our UCSB campus. 

Oftentimes, our primary focus first lands on the issues that directly plague our community. From spotting informational flyers on the walls to hearing announcements in lectures, it’s feasible for students to be aware of the problems that affect campus. In my experience, the Arbor walkway has been effective in informing me of any occurrences. For instance, two of last year’s rallies took place in front of the library. The proposed Munger Hall dormitory to partially ease UCSB’s housing crisis led to a protest from the affected students and the supporting community. Another rally was in response to the closing of the Dental Clinic. Particularly regarding the Dental Clinic rally, I remember walking to a lecture and seeing a group of people in front of the library, shouting and passing out little papers with the chants. This location is usually always buzzing with activity so there’s also the question of whether or not there’s an inkling of interest surrounding the issues. 

It’s understandable that while time definitely plays a role in our ability to be globally aware, sometimes that’s not the issue. There has to be a desire to absorb news in a thoughtful way or to deliberately search for it. It’s easy to ignore upsetting news, especially when it doesn’t personally affect us. 

If it’s an unwillingness to learn, it’s necessary to remember that power and privilege play a significant role in all of our lives — the question lies in whether or not one will use said privilege to expand their point of view and take action how they see fit. 

On the other side of the spectrum, maybe it’s not one’s unwillingness but fear of danger. One has to be in a safe mindset. Headlines can be triggering so it’s especially important to proceed with caution and consider one’s capacity. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with refusing to see the news if it’s taking a mental toll.  

It’s difficult to say with certainty that global events are being undercovered. News happens every day, and at an incomprehensible amount and speed, so it feels like the world is moving on too quickly. However, the people directly affected have not moved on — for instance Ukrainians, as the war in Ukraine is ongoing, and Haitians, as Haiti is again on the verge of foreign military occupation. As college students, we can all benefit from learning more about the global world. 

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