Opinion: ASU students should believe they have the ability to make a major impact

Stoneman Douglas students have proven that young people have a voice

It's common for people to underestimate their ability to inspire change in their own communities, and it's most often young people who fall victim to this misconception.

ASU students should be more aware that they actually can enact change and make a real impact in their society. Young people can find inspiration in the actions of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who were targeted in the tragic Valentine's Day mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Nonetheless, the students at Stoneman Douglas have not allowed the tragedy to defeat or silence them. 

Instead, they have stepped up to the plate to an unprecedented extent by a group of teenagers and have used their voices to draw attention to the issue of gun control on a national level. 

No matter the significance of the issue that students are passionate about, if they are willing to take action, then real progress can be made. 

The Stoneman Douglas students have proven that students can not only drive conversations on sensitive topics, but make tangible changes as well. 

"There is no single best way for students to become involved," Miki Kittilson, an affiliate professor at ASU's School of Politics and Global Studies, said. "Instead, there are a variety of different ways. Some might choose the route of electoral or partisan politics, voting, or even working on a campaign."

There are multiple communities on the ASU campuses that are actively combatting ideas that they see to be unjust, including gun reform. Still, there are other issues pertaining to ASU students that could benefit from more organized support, such as DACA, the wage gap and sexual misconduct

Of these, one of the most noticeable political presences on the ASU campus is the group of students who are fighting against President Donald Trump's views on DACA.  

In addition, millennials have been under fire for their excessive use of social networking sites, but social media has played a vital role in the spread of beliefs, and it is something of which students should take advantage.

In an article from The Atlantic, contributing editor Michelle Cottle called the Stoneman Douglas students "masters of social media," continuing on to say "they aren’t going to take any crap from the kooks and trolls."

Like the students at Stoneman Douglas, most ASU students have their own social media accounts and use them regularly. If students use their accounts to spread messages about issues that matter to them, they can find like-minded individuals and work towards solutions that will have a real impact.

"Young people have a particularly strong and effective voice," Kittilson said.

The most recent generation has brought new ideas and approaches to the political scene, though they have certainly been met with criticisms and doubts.

"Some political pundits have accused young people of being apathetic, and they are just plain wrong," Kittilson said. "We have witnessed a wave of new activism across the U.S. in recent weeks, and it's led by young people."

However, despite any criticisms of the students, what they are accomplishing at their age is admirable.

Enthusiasm and energy have been missing from the political world for a long time, and the new surge in interest is a positive notion that should continue to be encouraged. 

Students must realize that they are next to inherit the world, and they need to understand that they have the ability and the responsibility to make it better and safer for everyone.  

Reach the columnist at adunn11@asu.edu or follow @adrienne_dunn 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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