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Once again, our politicians have failed us, though this time I’m referring to our student politicians at Virginia Tech. As I sat through another “Great Debate” I was again left with the annual feelings of disconnect, anger and frustration.

The topics seemed to center around student life: healthcare, education and illegal substances, all of which are certainly relevant issues in our time.  However, we successfully ignored the most pertinent of topics facing students today, that is, the tens of thousands of current and former students who were sent off to fight a war.

While one-third of the time was spent pleading for the legalization of marijuana and the privatization of liquor by the state of Virginia, issues that unfortunately drew the loudest cheers from the audience, I couldn’t help but entertain my feelings of disenchantment, for yet again we squandered another opportunity for productive open discourse.

On a smaller scale, we have failed our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends who have suited up and walked into the fray for an ambiguous cause, one that is still the center of investigation for its legitimacy. We turned our back on them again, just as many of the politicians who publicly supported these wars did.

I attempted to address this issue at the debate, however there was no question and answer period. There was only time for each speaker to sell their party, take a playful shot at their opposition, or read a prewritten rebuttal.

Maybe the room was only booked for a certain amount of time, or maybe the event was kept brief in fear of losing people’s attention; students are in fact busy, you know. There’s a lot of work to be done, myriad tasks to complete, or even many movies to watch.

All we need to do is explain this to the 19-year-old student soldier patrolling the streets of Baghdad; I’m sure he’ll understand that what he’s supposedly fighting for: freedom, democracy and open discourse, have once again left him entirely out of the discussion.  After all, there are a limited amount of topics that we are able to cover. Maybe the students and politicians will find time to get around to it next year.

Original article published in The Collegiate Times, 3/26/2006

By Brian T. Murphy

The Great Debacle

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