Participation outside of the comfort zone

By: Carley Milligan, Editor-in-Chief

Let’s talk about participation.

It’s that portion of your grade in class where you are always asking yourself if it’s just enough to show up, or if this professor actually expects you to audibly respond to questions.

I’ve noticed in my classes a tendency for professors to ask questions to the entire class only to receive little to no response beyond murmurs and a few head nods.

“How is everyone today?” “Did everyone understand the question?” “Who knows the answer to this very easy question?” It’s pretty pathetic really, and I always appreciate it when professors tease the class for our millennial tendency to shy away from speaking up and seeming like a know-it-all, because it usually gets at least a handful of people to respond.

This removal from society penetrates our everyday lives, and is something that I experienced first hand yet again last week.

On Thursday, I worked with a few other students to run a table we had set up to recruit students to participate in Towson’s Most Eligible (this issue’s cover story). As we tried and tried to flag down students they kept passing us by with their headphones in and fingers furiously typing away on their phones. Very few people came over to see our table, and the few who did were mostly enticed by the free t-shirts they could win if they took part in TME.

Now, to be fair, I have been known on more than one occasion to pretend to use my phone so that I can keep my head down and advert the gaze of eager students trying to convince me to buy cupcakes or join a club. I know I am guilty of it too. However, when I have free time I also do take the time to wander around the Union and ask students about their club, organization or cause so that I can be more informed about what is happening on campus.

I do this because being on the other side of that table really puts things into perspective for you. It honestly made my day every time someone came up to our table to ask what we were doing even if they ultimately didn’t want to participate.

Having the opportunity to really be put out of my comfort zone over my four years at The Towerlight has made me really appreciate students who aren’t afraid to participate. I’ve had to approach crowd of strangers in a plethora of situations and those who actually respond to me with questions and enthusiasm rather than side looks and disinterest always stand out in my mind.

The ability to speak up and participate speaks to an individual’s maturity and self-confidence, and it’s a skill that as students we should be working to develop as well. I honestly think that maybe Towson should make it mandatory for everyone to take part in at least one extracurricular activity before they can graduate.

We should all strive to make someone around us and ourselves a little uncomfortable everyday. By putting yourself out there you will learn new things about the very place you are living in, and for goodness sake, if we don’t just talk to each other then we are never going to solve any of the problems that we are always complaining and sub tweeting about on Twitter.

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