Something’s missing |

Something’s missing

Lack of diversity affects politics of Steamboat Springs students

Josie Pacana

A group of students - from left, Sierra Romick, McKenzie Worden, Bryn Stillwell, Hanna Kurowski and Jessi Eagerton - visit with one another during lunch at Steamboat Springs High School. Josie Pacana argues that the school's lack of diversity affects students' cultural and political awareness.

— People may find that being tucked away in a quiet, little mountain town, while relaxing, is not the most cultural experience in the world.

Steamboat Springs is a primarily white, liberal community. Maybe 30 out of the school’s 641 students are Hispanic. That’s less than 5 percent. Other ethnic and racial groups represent less than 1 percent of the student population.

What is Steamboat’s level of cultural awareness? And does that influence our political views?

In American Studies, we learn about the issue of slavery, and that’s about the closest we get to experiencing a variety of cultures. Cities generally have a more diverse atmosphere. There isn’t really anything we can do about our lack of diversity. It’s not as though we can simply import different cultures into Steamboat. The key is to realize things are different in other places. If we become too accustomed to our surroundings, we can trick ourselves into believing that we cannot help, because for many of us, Steamboat is all we know.

The issue of cultural awareness definitely taints the town’s general political views. We go to school every day – it is expected that our lifestyles are influenced by what occurs around us on a daily basis. Media and family play a hand in building our character, but as a teenager, friends are essential to what opinions we have.

Because of our unique lifestyles, we tend to think one way in politics. A town in Texas is more likely to be full of Republicans than we are. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does cause concern about our abilities to think for ourselves. How is it possible to choose your own political mindset when you must face a constant barrage of pressure to be just like your peers?

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Would our town have different views if we had more diversity? Probably. Is that a good thing? I don’t know.

We are a mostly liberal community, yet the President is Republican, meaning that more conservative towns must exist in other parts of the country. There is a balance of culture in America. Balance and compromise are the key to equal say in the government.

Steamboat is not overwhelmingly cultural. Although our population is small and not very diverse, our political views remain the same as many areas that do have a lot of culture. I cannot tell you if our political opinions would be different with more diversity. It probably would, because almost everything affects an opinion. It is not a bad thing that we do not have a lot of culture, as long as we can realize that we are not the only type of Americans who count.

Josie Pacana is a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School.