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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 2, 1998)
Don’t bench yourself
Involvement is better than watching life from sideline
LORI ROBISON is a senior
news-editorial major and a
Daily Nebraskan columnist
We must participate in life if we
want to live.
For some students at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, that
means joining clubs, associations,
sports teams. For others, it means
attending lectures, presentations and
exhibits. And for still others, partici
pating in life revolves around activi
ties entirely outside of the campus
In the Association of Students of
the University of Nebraska debate
last week, candidates spoke of
emphasizing community on campus.
The problem with this fine idea is
that, first of all, this “community” is
a diverse mixture of students of all
ages, backgrounds and nationalities.
All of us have our own priorities, our
own responsibilities, our own direc
tions we travel in a given day.
Second, this campus is already a
community within a community.
While the rest of the city blissfully
goes about its daily business, the uni
versity is awash with activities,
forums, contests, promotions and
other goings on that seem to be
unique to the college experience.
Third, the whole concept of
increasing a sense of community on
campus is vague at best. What does
that goal really mean? It sounds sus
piciously like just so much ambigu
ous political rhetoric.
Each of us must make our own
choices in how and to what extent
we’re going to participate in the “com
munity” around us. And for the college
student, involvement seems to revolve
around individual circumstances.
Many students cast a furrowed
brow at those of us whom they deem
as not involved enough in campus
life, but perhaps their definition of
participation is too narrow. For some
students, like those living in the fra
ternities and sororities, the college
experience seems to exist on a differ
ent plane of reality than for the rest
There are regular, organized
activities and fund-raisers in the
greek system, for instance. The sis
ters and brothers live and experience
the university as a cohesive group, in
touch with what’s going on because
they all live in the same house. When
a new idea for a volunteering activity
or other organized event comes
along, they are there to lend a hand
And it’s great, but it’s not the
reality for the rest of us on that same
That part of the student body not
making up the greek system or the
other cohesive groups on campus
consist of a motley crew of leftovers.
Some of us live off campus, others of
us live in the residence halls, and an
increasing number of us are nontra
ditional students in our 30s, 40s and
up with families to care for.
Many of these growing number
of nontraditional students attending
UNL would like to join more clubs
and participate in more campus
activities. But the realities of time
and energy keep us much too occu
pied to squeeze in a few more hours
in an already over-packed schedule.
And although almost all UNL
students live with hectic schedules,
the fact that many are embarking
clean and free from their high school
careers does make a difference. The
future is wide open for these newly
initiated adults, having only to take
care of themselves.
But for the nontraditional student
embarking on a full-time commit
ment at a university, life continues
just as it didbefore going to school.
The responsibilities, stresses, bills
and demands of a previous life don’t
take a break until graduation.
They’re carried over to and some
times even amplified by the four
year roller-coaster ride through
I’m not complaining, mind you. I
love what I’m doing and would ven
ture to say that most students in simi
lar situations probably feel the same
way. But for many of us, participa
tion in our lives tends to revolve
more around family, ongoing respon
sibilities and furthering career goals
than running for election in the stu
And soon, the ASUN election on
March 11 will allow us all the oppor
tunity to participate in one aspect of
Now, I could be deceitful to you,
dear readers, and say I’ll go out of
my way on that day (assuming I
remember on the 11th that elections
are being held) and seek out the
nearest booth to do my duty as a
UNL student. I could say that I fol
low the ASUN meetings and actions
religiously and am well-versed in the
ways of student government.
I could say that, but I respect all
of you too much to lie (besides, the
last voting rates indicate that most of
you reading this won’t be voting,
As a matter of fact, despite the
fact I’ve been at UNL since 1995,
I’m still not sure of exactly what
ASUN does. And after trying to find
out this past week, I’m more con
fused than ever.
A current ASUN member said
the real power in the hands of the
student governing body is deciding
how much of our student fees goes to
which organization, center or activi
ty. While that’s a fine and honorable
responsibility, it’s not enough for me
to take my life in my hands by going
to battle in the R Street parking war
just to get to a voting booth in the
But participation in the academic
aspect of our lives can take many
forms for many reasons.
One freshman student I spoke
with said he intended to become
involved in at least a few activities so
he could feel more connected with
<the campus community he’s
immersed in. He pointed out that
some of the students he’s talked to
refuse to participate on campus, yet
complain bitterly about living here.
Perhaps if more became involved in
the life around them, this freshman
reasoned, life here would not seem
so bad for these students.
Perhaps that student stumbled on
to a basic truth. Watching life from
the sidelines is empty, unsatisfying,
For instance, the first three years
I lived in Lincoln, I went to my job,
came home and was totally miser
able living here. In fact, looking back
on that time, I was miserable every
where I went.
In spite of myself, I gradually
became more willing to take advan
tage of the opportunities to partici
pate in life. Watching without doing
basically sucked, and I realized that
by isolating myself from friends and
the chance to participate in life, I
was doing myself no favors.
And just as that freshman had
reasoned, choosing to participate did
improve my outlook, enabling me to
discover many of the good things
this place has to offer.
Perhaps life is like a sport.
Watching it from the sidelines only
provides us an insufficient glimpse
of what’s really going on. Each of us
must decide for ourselves what posi
tion we’re going to play. That’s fine,
so long as we get off our butts and
join the game.
Castro doesn’t care i
^ncZ of economic sanctions would improve relations with Cuba
SHAWN MEYSENBURG is
a sophomore news-editori
al major and a Daily
I know Fidel Castro is a putz, but
he’s a long-suffering putz. The
United States’ economic sanctions
against his country aren’t going to
coerce him into turning Cuba into a
democracy - he’s been giving the
U.S. government the finger (figura
tively, of course) for almost 40
The small, communist country
within spitting distance of Florida
poses no real threat to the United
States. Furthermore, since the fall of
the Soviet Union, Cuba’s had a
I think the United States should
lift economic sanctions against
Cuba. Why? There are many good
reasons to abandon the embargo
against Cuba, but I can think of two
or three that stand out
First of all, the economic sanc
tions aren’t working. If they were
going to break the spirit of Cuba,
this would have happened already.
• Second, let’s remember who suf
fers as a result of economic sanc
tions: the poor. The decision makers
in Cuba aren’t feeling too oppressed
by these sanctions, but you can bet
Cuba’s poor are hating life. Removal
of economic sanctions would do
nothing but help the people of Cuba.
I’ll give one example of how free
trade with Cuba could help Cubans
out: The cigar business is huge in
the United States right now. Stupid
people with lots of money are laymg
out big bucks for cigars.
If economic sanctions against
Cuba were to be lifted, every tobac
co lover in the country would
rejoice. Cuba wouldn’t be able to
supply our cigar-smoking yuppies
with enough of its world-famous
This may be a moronic
example, but nevertheless
it illustrates how a lifting
of economic sanctions
would help that
good relationship might do more to
lead Cuba down the path to democ
racy than economic sanctions will.
At present, I think it’s safe to
assume that the average Cuban citi
zen doesn’t think too highly of our
government. If our government were
to take steps to improve our standing
with Cubans, Cuba might be more
receptive to making changes
in its system of government.
As much as I’d like to see our
country lift sanctions against Cuba,
don’t think our government will.
The first reason is that fighting
communism has been a part of our
foreign policy for a long time. This
sounds OK, right? Well, I’m forced
to ask: What about China?
China’s a communist country.
Furthermore, China also has been
guilty of mistreating “enemies of th«
state.” Heck, if there aren’t prisoners
of conscience in some of China’s
prisons right now, I’d be surprised.
Why, then, do
we trade with
answer is sim
ple: money. We
buy many prod
ucts from this
country made by
its huge labor
with China would cause economic
problems for the United States.
[ Cuba’s a small, seemingly
insignificant country that’s easy for
us to push around. We don’t suffer a
great deal of economic hardship as a
result of not trading with Cuba, so
maintaining the sanctions against
that country is easy.
I’m not saying we should set up
sanctions against China, we just
shouldn’t allow this double standard
There is another significant rea
son why our government doesn’t lift
the sanctions against Cuba: We
would feel “inadequate.”
The United States is one of the
most powerful nations on the planet.
Economic sanctions are, in my opin
ion, a type of warfare. Our country
uses them, like warfare, to put the
pressure on nations that are angering
If the United States government
were to lift the sanctions against
Cuba, it would be admitting defeat
in its “war” against Cuba.
The mighty United
States would be humiliated
- what a shame.
There’s been bad
blood between the
United States and Cuba
for quite a long time. If
we ever want to see real
changes in that country,
we need to try to
improve our relation
ship with Cuba.
A lifting of economic
sanctions against Cuba
could be the first step in
improving relations with
that nation. We’ll be
helping Cubans instead
of hurting them, and,
hey, we’ll get some
great cigars as well.
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