The Connection Issue

Whether it’s on campus, online or on national TV, polarization dominates much of the way we communicate. It’s clear that fault lines open rifts in our social fabric.

Some divides are the product of systemic inequalities. Others are the product of political actors who refuse to hear each other and encourage us to burrow deeper into echo chambers rather than empathize with our neighbors.

What’s more, we’re heading toward a loneliness epidemic. Recent Gallup polls found nearly 40% of college students endured loneliness the previous day during the spring 2023 semester, and Americans’ perceived mental health hit an all-time low in winter of 2022.

Loneliness has tangible negative health effects. Research from the U.S. Surgeon General’s office found loneliness can increase the risk for premature death at levels comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

We have a connection issue.

Yet, we also have an innate desire to seek safe, supportive communities, especially as college students. We join clubs that match our passions, don our striped bibs for Badger gamedays or spend hours making home-cooked meals for friends and family. Life is best when it’s shared with people we love.

These are the stories we captured in The Connection Issue.

Our project shines light into the rifts we face and shares stories about people and groups who ground us in community and empathy. Music — whether it’s brass or deep bass — connects our college experience. Shared meals in church basements bring people together and open doors to those who struggle to afford food.

We also tell stories of persistence and resilience. LGBTQ+ students who were scared to stand out in their hometowns found space to shine in Madison. A tribal community left on the wrong side of the digital divide built its own broadband network. And social workers helped Ukrainian refugees forced to flee from war find their footing.

Division still exists, and we acknowledge that. Some students on campus feel UW-Madison’s protest policy is too restrictive. Others feel administrators need to listen more than they talk when it comes to controversial issues. It’s healthy to disagree, and disagreement often sparks needed change.

Still, it’s important to remember we share the same 936-acre campus. We each arrive with hopeful anticipation, and odds are we’ll leave with bittersweet nostalgia for our college years, even if bigger dreams lie ahead.

You can’t bring Terrace movie nights or walks on the Lakeshore Path with you when you graduate. But you can keep the connections you make.

The Daily Cardinal Management Team
Drake White-Bergey, Editor-in-Chief
Tyler Katzenberger, Managing Editor 


The Connection Issue

This action project was created by The Daily Cardinal editorial staff with support from the Evjue Foundation.

All content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal | Powered by SNworks