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Students sit on sidelines of political game

I didn't know what I was stepping on, and I really didn't want to look. Of course, even if I had wanted to look, I wouldn't have been able to. I spent about half an hour early Sunday afternoon fearing for my life, being smashed against hundreds of other rabid Cavalier fans, inching closer and closer to the doors of University Hall and the card swipers who would give us entry.

It was probably the closest I'll ever get to using the knowledge I acquired in HIEU 203, History of Ancient Greece, last semester. For 30 minutes, I knew what it was like to be part of a fighting phalanx.

Unable to move independently and propelled forward by the force of those behind me, I was just grateful that I'm not claustrophobic, and I hoped for the best. If I'd had a spear, I probably would have thrown it. I never figured out what kind of slippery goop was beneath my sneakers.

I'm not going to pretend to be a sports expert. I never quite understand why sometimes after fouls, the team shoots free throws and other times it doesn't. I can hardly name any college basketball players other than those on the Virginia team. Often, I appear more than a little clueless, only cheering when everyone else does. But still, I think I have learned quite a bit from this basketball season.

First of all, orange is not a flattering color. Those who think so are sadly mistaken. I understand sporting orange to show support for the team. That's fine. But if anyone out there is pondering making this secondary color a primary staple of his or her wardrobe, I urge them to reconsider. Looking like a giant piece of citrus fruit probably isn't the appearance most students want.

Another astounding realization I have come to is, contrary to popular belief, something other than a threat to the fraternity system can bind the student body into a cohesive group, demanding action and expressing its concerns. There is no apathy when it comes to basketball.

Instead, students camp out for days to get the best seats at the game. They skip class, skip showering and skip normal on-Grounds activities to get a chance to be in the front rows of U-Hall when Pete Gillen's crew hits the court. The cheers are raucous, the intensity is high and the emotional charge running through the crowd is nothing less than exhilarating.

I am not faulting students for getting so worked up about basketball. After all, the team is awesome, and going to games is an amazing amount of fun. Athletics do deserve student support - there's no question about that. But it would be great if that same kind of energy was applied to other aspects of the University.

This week, students will go to the polls (otherwise known as the computer lab) to vote on a wide variety of leadership positions and on a major referenda to change several points of the Honor Committee Constitution.

Predicting an abominable voter turnout would be premature. Lots of students probably will vote - maybe more than in previous years. But there won't be much energy.

Students won't be lining up to be the first to cast a vote in Student Council elections. Very few people will paint themselves orange or blue to show the depth of their commitment.

(Thankfully, this also probably means that Lil' Hoo will not be making random appearances around Grounds, inverting himself in a show of support for various candidates.)

Too often, students in the politico loop fail to remember those outside it in their quests to gain office and get the job done. Consequently, students who do not populate offices in Newcomb Hall fail to see what the system offers them. Each group is left disillusioned with the other.

Perhaps nothing short of turning student politics into a spectator sport will really change the problem. But I don't think there's any chance of Thomas Hall and the rest of the field of Committee candidates engaging in any sort of athletic tournament in the hope of gaining student support and sparking interest.

Tent cities will not spring up to show support of student self-governance.

That's just not the way the game of student politics is played here.


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