In UC Santa Barbara’s “Parties and Polarization” class, seniors are seeing the impeachment trial playing out before their eyes.
“I stress the gravity of the situation with students,” says Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod, a postdoctoral fellow who’s teaching the class.
But even politically minded students are having a hard time staying engaged.
“They're less interested because they envision it as a foregone conclusion,” Meyer-Gutbrod says. “They've grown up in this highly polarized world where party line votes are the norm. The older you get, the more you can think back and remember times when Republicans would reach across the aisle with Democrats and vise versa. The students right now don't see that.”
Meyer-Gutbrod says students are apprehensive when he encourages them to talk about what they saw or heard in the news.
“The two reasons that have come up are that it's unfolding too quickly, and they can't keep track of all the news,” he says. “The other reason [is] that it's such a polarizing topic. They recognize that emotions are high with regard to partisanship, and they're more hesitant to talk about their politics if they don't know the other person's politics.”
KCRW hosted a discussion at UC Santa Barbara about political polarization on campus following President Donald Trump’s election. You can listen to the discussion between four politically diverse college students here.