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Column: Obama, Students Need To Know Why They Want Change

This story was written by Jordan Harp, Daily Illini

Change has become a vogue word. It seems to be the prevailing theme this time of year. Right now, we are all coming back to campus for another school year. For the freshmen, this is probably the biggest change of their lives. College is finally here! You are finally on your own, and about time too. Then of course, we have a presidential candidate who has based his entire candidacy around change. Yes, change, as he would like to say, is in the air.

We like change; it is a favorite word for us. I believe this mantra of change he's been running on is why Obama has appealed so much to people our age more so than because he is relatively young for a presidential candidate. The word invokes new and exciting thoughts in our heads. It makes us dream of exploring new frontiers and making a difference with people and changing lives.

Yes, we hear it nonstop when we come here. Change is a lot of what college is about. In my two years here so far, there has been quite a bit of change. I've seen the unceremonious retiring of an 80-year-old symbol, the improvement of a once laughable football team, along with its stadium. Now, we are not just the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but instead just the University of Illinois, with all of our e-mail addresses being changed to Illinois.edu from uiuc.edu, as well as our school's URL, in an effort to present ourselves as more "global." In that same vein, the Global Campus was launched in this school's first attempt at distance learning.

It is also made the main theme of any freshman orientation. "You are going to change in college," we are told, and of course, it is true. The question isn't so much a matter of if, because it is impossible not too, or even how much, because the college years are seminal years, so we are all going to change a lot. Rather the question is how or in what way we are going to change, and maybe even more so, why or for what reason are we changing.

To me, changing without knowing how is irresponsible, and changing without knowing why is stupid. People don't want to change just for the heck of it. Instead, they need to know why we need to change and how it is going to be done. I believe this is why Obama is doing badly in recent polls. He has told us all why we need to change, mainly because we don't like George Bush, but he hasn't explained how it is we are going to do that. It is near impossible to force people in a different direction, if they don't know what is in that direction.

There are a lot of forces that try to pull us in different directions here. On Quad Day, there are going to be forces that are literally yelling at us to get us to come in their direction. Just like when we choose which way we are going to go and which yells we are going to answer, we have to continue to do the same thing our entire time here at U of I. You have to decide how your time here is going to affect you and what it is going to mean to you. People say change is inevitable. Maybe so, but how we do it isn't uncontrollable.

So it is important for us to examine how it is that we have changed from time to time, just as it is important for us to examine the change that a candidate might promise. For a lot of people here, if they were to examine how it is they have changed so far during college, it would probably be an increased tolerance to alcohol. Good, but maybe not what they should be going for.

In order for the best change to happen while you are here, it is important for us to have a good idea of where we are at, and probably more importantly, where we want to be in four years. Obama seems like a lot of freshmen: He doesn't really know where he wants to be in four years, besides president. Fortunately, for all of you freshmen, you have some time to decide. Unfortuately, for Obama, he doesn't.

Most importantly though, enjoy all of this, because it is one of the best changes that you will ever have.