Imagine this: The authoritarian government in a far off country has complete control over the education system. Students who say anything that disagrees with what they are being taught face the possibility of being beaten or thrown behind bars. The government also has complete control over all forms of media, including the Internet. Anyone who tries to spread news that the government doesn’t like could face death, all because they posted something on the Internet.

If that situation seems far-fetched, think again, because that is exactly what is happening in the country of Belarus. Freedoms that some Americans take for granted are denied daily. Ideas are oppressed and individualistic thinking is a crime.

Steven Sours, visiting scholar for the Institute of Discipleship, has noticed how unaware college students are of the world around them. “Most college students are not international students, do not watch the news, and aren’t affected directly (by international unrest),” he said.

A disturbing study was published by the University of Michigan last year. During the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, they revealed results of a new study that stated, “College students who hit campus after 2000 have empathy levels that are 40 percent lower than those who came before them.”

For those who are not sure, or for those who confuse empathy with sympathy, empathy is defined as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” In other words, empathy means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Veronica McAsey, library director, believes people should care about this educational oppression. “There should be the freedom to share one’s personal beliefs without the ramifications of death or imprisonment. You need that debate so that the best ideas can be promoted,” she said.

Tiffany Rea, marine biology sophomore, applies this truth specifically to the American nation. “It’s important for us to be aware as Americans, who have huge amounts of resources, not to take advantage of others, but to help them. We’re all human beings. It’s about being there for one another, even if there are racial and language barriers.”

Tendai Kwaramba, biology/biochemistry junior, also thinks people should care about international affairs. “It’s the basic quality of empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Care about what they’re going through.”

Erin Morris is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at

Edited by Paige Carswell