Some members of the Arizona Legislature don't care about students

Some initiatives in the Arizona Legislature prevent students' voices from being heard

Student voting rightssocial justice classes and voter initiatives are just some of the issues targeted by bills in the Arizona Legislature within the last few months.

I am concerned that some members of our legislature don’t care about students. This practice of introducing legislation with a direct negative impact on students needs to stop.

Many of the recent bills that aim to take away students' rights have been introduced by Bob Thorpe, a representative of Arizona’s congress from Flagstaff, Arizona.

Bob Thorpe is a member of the Arizona House of Representatives who has repeatedly introduced legislation targeted at students. He has proposed both HB 2120, which would have barred universities from having social justice courses, and HB 2260, which would have made it so that out-of-state students could not vote in Arizona.

The argument for HB 2120 was that social justice classes are divisive and cater to a particular message that tax payers shouldn't have to pay for. It would have made it so that universities could not have social justice courses and would have imposed harsh punishments on universities that broke this rule.

The other bill directed at students was HB 2260, which would have made it so that out-of-state students living in a dorm in Arizona couldn't register as a voter under their dorm address and thus could not participate in local elections. 

This bill was an attempt by Bob Thorpe to silence a large portion of the student vote, as it would seem he didn't want them to help vote him out of office in the next election. 

Both of these bills would have directly affected students in a negative way. We should have the right to vote in the state we are currently residing in and the right to engage in social justice topics at our universities.

Luckily, both bills died after their second read. These failed bills do, however, underline a major issue with some representatives in the Arizona legislature. It’s also likely that more bills targeting students will be introduced in the near future since the representatives who introduce them have no incentive to stop.

The issue seems to be that representatives such as Bob Thorpe simply do not care about students. 

“There isn't the belief that these communities whether they're students or vulnerable communities have as powerful a voice down at the capitol as special interest groups,” Sam Richard, executive director of Protecting Arizona’s Family Coalition, said. 

It is true that students don't have as powerful a voice as special interest groups do. This is because special interest groups often have an abundant amount of money and resources to spend on politicians. 

Unfortunately, some of our representatives care more about money than the future of our country. Students already vote less than most other Americans. Our politicians should be encouraging students to vote and be politically involved, not trying to silence them.

Regardless of what you think about the questionable bills that have been going through the legislature, it is important to vote. If students as a whole continue to not vote, then we will continue to be ignored by our state’s representatives, and bills such as those mentioned earlier will continue to be introduced.

Correction: The earlier version of this article stated that Bob Thorpe represented Tucson, Arizona. In actuality, he represents Flagstaff, Arizona.


Reach the columnist at morganbwillis@gmail.com or follow @Morganwillis37 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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