Q and A with Professor Apostolidis

Kinsey White

1. Do you feel as if Whitman students are politically involved, or are we trapped in the Whitman bubble?

I know many Whitman students who are politically involved in a variety of different ways, from forming their own organizations to working for public officials to working with local groups. Also, some of the course-work students do in the Politics Department includes elements of political involvement. Check out the blogs on our “State of the State for WA Latinos” project website (www.walatinos.org) ¬†for some excellent examples of how the students active in this project experienced the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Seattle last month, where they worked as volunteers while also doing research for their independent research projects. My colleague and spouse Professor Jeanne Morefield taught at Reed for the 2009-2010 academic year; by comparison with Reedies, who are commonly thought to be very political (even “radical”), Whitties, in our experience, care considerably more about political activism, are more energetically involved and show a more earnest desire to make a difference in the world.

2. What are your personal political interests? How politically involved would you say you are?

Earlier in my career I worked professionally in Democratic presidential campaign politics, in a US representative’s office on Capitol Hill and in the Massachusetts state government. In earlier years during my time at Whitman, I was very active in the local/regional movement to support Teamsters Local 556, a local union of immigrant meatpacking workers who were struggling against extremely dangerous and abusive working conditions at the Tyson Foods, Inc. beef plant located just east of Pasco. At the moment, my main forms of political involvement come in speaking publicly about the book I wrote about that struggle [“Breaks in the Chain: What Immigrant Workers Can Teach America About Democracy,” Univ. of Minnesota Press 2010], and through activities with my students in the “State of the State for Washington Latinos” community-based research project.

3. What is your general opinion on political apathy on campus?

I think the common assumption that Whitman students are “politically apathetic” needs to be seriously reexamined. I am concerned that the exciting and dedicated forms of political involvement by many Whitman students are being trivialized and ignored.

4. Do you think other Whitman students are politically aware? If not, how would you suggest they get more information or get involved?

Download daily podcasts from “Democracy Now!” and listen to them when you’re not working. Get involved with an activist organization and read the information on the links this organization sponsors.