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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Students rising for civic engagement

Although it feels like 2024 has just begun, some important voting deadlines are already sneaking up the calendar. However, many students, including my younger siblings, often ask “Why should I even vote?” While the reasons may vary per person, there are some major reasons why I think voting is so important, and some resources to take advantage of this voting season.

One of the biggest reasons why students should vote is because of how big our demographic is, thus bringing the power of social and political change. As students exercise their civil duty and vote, they can shape our society into one that we can be proud of. While the reforms that we each find important will be different for everyone, such as environmental, immigration or educational policies, there is something out there for all of us. Every student has different passions and needs, and voting allows us to aim for a society that we can all collectively be proud of.  

I asked MASSPIRG’s New Voters Project Coordinator Jada Knight some questions on the topic. Knight said, “Our generation also has a unique outlook, where the impact of government can be seen on social media every day, and those who previously did not have a voice in mainstream discourse can now broadcast their community’s experience to the masses.” This is an amazing point, as our generation has a real-time advantage that can benefit us in not only making previously silenced voices heard, but in holding our own governments accountable. 

Tying into the topic of silenced voices, Knight raised the point that not all voices are heard when it comes to voting, expressing a gap that can exist in our democracy. I asked Knight, “In your opinion, how can encouraging student engagement in voting contribute to a more inclusive and representative democracy?” She answered, “[Voting] is definitely a critical part of advocating for the issues you care about, but it is not accessible to everyone, and we need to go a step further and hold our leaders accountable after the ballot box… There are a lot of peopleundocumented people, formerly incarcerated people, people who do not have citizenship for whatever reasonwho cannot formally voice their beliefs in our governmental process.”  

Democracy certainly isn’t perfect, and this raises the valid concern that voting isn’t the end goal when it comes to civic engagement, because many people can’t vote. As voters and citizens, our duty is at the ballots and after the votes have been cast, as we hold our elected officials accountable. Voting helps us get as close to an inclusive society as we can by voting for political policies that align with our own values and making sure to follow through with those policies. It’s not a one and done situation, but it is a constant, worthy effort toward bettering our country.

The fact that not everyone can vote is another reason for why voting is incredibly important to me, since so many people fought to give this right to those who previously weren’t allowed to. Women and people of color weren’t allowed to be involved in the voting process, as those with the political control didn’t want people like us to have the power to change our society in ways that better all of us. Now, these minority groups have the constitutional right to vote for changes that also benefit us.

As a woman, voting is something that wasn’t allowed until the past hundred years, so I don’t take this privilege lightly. Higher-ups have tried to silence the voices of people who look like me, as well as other groups. Taking a stance at the ballots acknowledges the power we have and shows that we will no longer be silenced in political environments. For me, voting is more than trying to change the future; as a Latina, it’s also to thank those that fought for me to even get the chance to influence change. 

Now, while research isn’t the fun part of voting, it is still extremely important to go into an election with some knowledge of the policies that candidates support. This way you can side with someone who aligns with your own personal values as a citizen, student and person. Doing research on the running candidates and understanding what they’re passionate about and the changes they hope to enforce allows us to make more confident and educated voting choices. 

The process of actually registering to vote can seem daunting, but thankfully, there are a ton of resources to help get you started! MASSPIRG, according to their website, aims for “UMB students to have the opportunity to be engaged citizens and make a real, tangible difference on issues that matter to us and society.” [1] They‘re an amazing organization that helps students understand voting and helps get them registered! I highly recommend stopping by their office at Suite 3100 on the third Floor of Campus Center if political issues are something you’re passionate about, or if you simply want to exercise your right as a citizen. 

The people in that office, such as Knight, are passionate about making changes and helping students in our community, so even if you have other questions about affordable textbooks or homelessness, they’re a great place to stop and get involved! Jadyn, who also works in the office, shared this resource called “studentvote.org.” They have a super easy voter registration which only takes about two minutes, along with other resources around students and voting!  

Overall, voting is so important in our communities, as it helps us try to make changes for the things that matter most in our lives. With the presidential primaries coming up on March 5, it’s a great time to start registering and doing some research before the 2024 Presidential Election on Nov. 5 of this year. I’ll see you at the ballots! 

Sources:

[1] https://masspirgstudents.org/umb-fee/

About the Contributor
Mercy Moncada, Opinions Writer