College Students, Civic Engagement Is the Act of Elevating Your Voice

Kaitlynn Swanbeck / Florida Southern College »

College is such a critical part of our lives for countless reasons. We are learning so much about ourselves, figuring out what we want to do with our lives and settling into adulthood. We are so concerned about our futures but typically only think about it in an individualistic fashion. That is, I think there is a good portion of students who do not recognize the importance of civic engagement. But your vote matters. Your voice matters.

I am a political science student and actively work in politics, so I sometimes cannot wrap my head around how people neglect their civic duty. It has always been at the forefront of my mind, so I have a hard time understanding how people don’t understand how critical their input actually is to our democracy. College students are greatly impacted by our government and the decisions made at different levels of it. We are working jobs, accruing insane amounts of debt, figuring out taxes, and being all-around, significantly affected by our government. So there should be no reason why we do not make our voices heard utilizing every mechanism possible. 

Personally, I like to encourage my friends who are not in political science and actively engaged to get more involved by taking small steps that they are comfortable with. Start off by educating yourself about your representation. Know who your Congressional representation is, as well as those who represent you at the local level. Your public officials work for you and should be a resource—someone you can reach out to if you are struggling to file for unemployment, if the roads near you need attention, or any sort of thing like that. 

Beyond education on officials, figure out what you are passionate about. What issues do you care about? Depending on what it is, decipher what you can do to promote change in that area. If it is abortion rights, figure out if there is a Planned Parenthood or clinic near you to volunteer as an escort to make sure patients feel safe when going in to get any sort of procedure done. If you are passionate about racial justice, contact organizations that also share that passion, and consider going to a Black Lives Matter protest! 

The biggest step that I like to emphasize is to VOTE. Your vote is critical. Look up voting guides provided by organizations you trust, talk to your friends, and do your own research to make your decisions on what and who you will vote for or against! Feel confident in your decisions by doing your proper research. Make sure you are ready to vote! Make a plan. Do you want to vote by mail? Or in person? If you are voting in person, do you plan on voting on election day or within the early voting period? Contact your Supervisor of Elections to check your voter registration status. Make sure you are comfortable utilizing your voice by making sure you are prepared to vote.