While events can have a real effect on a campus’s atmosphere and mood, this particular semester has seen extraordinary highs and lows. At Hofstra University, our September began just ahead of hosting the most-viewed presidential debate in history. The excitement on campus was electric. Students were involved on all levels of activities surrounding the presidential campaign.
Then, three weeks ago, the election’s surprising outcome hit campuses around the country hard. Many students reveled in victory but the majority of young people were disappointed; some even claimed to be horrified and fearful. I can say without partisan prejudice that the overwhelming majority of my public relations students were shocked and even angry, and many were seeking reassurance that everything would be OK. The Thanksgiving holiday was a welcome pause, giving us time to reflect on how fortunate we are despite feelings of gloom many have shared.
I hope young people recognize that by United Nations estimates, 13 percent of the world’s population goes hungry every day. A quarter of all people live in substandard housing. Another 25 percent live under communist or otherwise oppressive governments. About 17 percent are unable to read or write. Even in the United States, seven percent of high school students drop out, and while two-thirds of high school graduates go on to college, just 40 percent earn a degree. About 14.5 percent of Americans live below the poverty line. Nineteen 19 percent have some kind of disability, according to the Census Bureau’s broad definition of “disability.”
I’d like to suggest that despite life’s concerns and disappointments, we are undeniably lucky when you consider others’ disadvantages. We can’t be sure of how OK our new government will be, but I have enough faith in our system and the power of PR to rally public opinion. We’ll survive what’s ahead, and those newly elected and appointed leaders will discover limits to dramatic change.
We must also be cognizant of our place in the world and appreciate that we live relatively well, have far more opportunity than most, and therefore are truly and even profoundly fortunate. Indeed, we should be very, very thankful. Your thoughts?