Tech Student Fights Political Apathy in New Book
Posted February 3, 2005 | Atlanta
Anyone who says college students are apathetic about politics hasn't met Georgia Tech student Alexandra Pajak. A published author at the age of 23, the first-year graduate student has two works that appear in the new book, "What We Think: Young Voters Speak Out."
Released last October, the 288-page book is a collection of essays, poems and photographs written by 18- to 24-year-old students from nearly 100 universities. The mission, said co-publisher Rob Grabow, is to prove that college students are anything but apathetic.
"I think college students are very aware of what goes on around them," said Pajak, "especially with the Internet and the many media sources that are out there."
Pajak's contributions to the book take a very personal approach to politics. "These big ideas like democracy play out in everyday life," she explained.
One of only eight authors to have two works in the book, Pajak wrote the poem, "An African-American Step Show" and the essay "On Being Different in the South" while she was an undergraduate at Agnes Scott College. While very different in style, both works speak to the different ways people respond to being alienated from the larger culture.
"We were attracted to Alexandra's contribution, 'On Being Different in the South,' said Grabow, "not only because of her wonderful storytelling ability and the fact that it is remarkably well written, but also because it spoke to the nature of prejudice and the notion of might making right. Her contributions were among the best."
Pajak said she got involved with the book after responding to an e-mail asking for political writings to address the perception of political apathy amongst young people.
"A lack of political discussion results in bottled up feelings and bottled up questions about the way people live," said Pajak. "It makes for a dangerous undertone in the community. Without discussion, it makes it easy to misunderstand. It's important to talk."
So far, she's been very impressed with the level of political discussion she's seen at Georgia Tech. Unlike at other universities, where political correctness seems to stifle honest political discussion, Tech's student body is very willing to talk, she said. "The atmosphere allows for a freer exchange of ideas."
Pajak is in her first year of a graduate program in the School of History, Technology and Society. After getting her degree, she plans on pursuing her interest in political writing in academia or journalism.
The book was published by College Tree Publishing, which was founded by Gonzaga University seniors Grabow and Dean Robbins. They are which is in the midst of compiling more essays for "What We Think II" and "What We Think About God."
Pajak is scheduled to sign copies of the book at the campus bookstore in early March.