Opinion: Students should be more vocal with government to create change

ASU students and groups should ensure their voices are being heard by the local government

Students should make their voices heard at the state capitol by going to speak to different representatives, lobbyists and special interest groups. 

While some students and student organizations make regular appearances at the state capitol, it's safe to say most students aren't particularly politically engaged. According to the U.S. Census, 18 to 29 year olds consistently represent the lowest voter turnout in presidential elections. 

However, students should become more active in visiting and communicating with their representatives in order to express their concerns. 

ASU students, who enjoy close proximity to the state capitol, have incredible opportunities to get involved with state and local government. There also are many political and special interest organizations at ASU that could benefit from developing professional relationships with state representatives. 

“Students of voting age have more influence than they realize,” said Arizona State Rep. David Stringer (R-Prescott). “Elected officials do pay attention to young people, but they need to reach out. They need to make their voices heard.”

It is the government’s job to adequately represent the people, and state representatives have a responsibility to listen to students, who are part of their constituent base. Students must take advantage of this if they have ideas about legislation or want to see a specific type of reform. 

Even out-of-state students can get involved in state government by building professional relationships and researching new legislation. Students who spend the majority of the year at ASU should also have a voice in local and state policy. 

It is common for students to feel intimidated by the idea of visiting their representatives, but it is important to understand that politicians are people too. State representatives and senators are there to listen to their constituents and support legislation that benefits them.

Once students understand the necessity of a relationship between ASU groups and state politicians, they will realize the importance of advocating on behalf of their cause. 

It would be foolish to expect change while putting forth minimal effort. Spreading awareness about a cause via social media, tabling and event planning is crucial to the expansion of a movement, but it is not enough. 

Meeting with people who are in charge of passing laws and reform is one of the most effective ways of making your presence known. If students are dedicated enough to a cause, they should have no problem going to the state capitol to advocate on behalf of it. 

The Arizona government is currently working on and discussing various pressing issues, such as immigration, abortion rights, tax reform and much more. If student-led organizations from any of these sectors made an appearance at the capitol, politicians could become more educated on these issues and understand where students stand. 

If students expect their representatives to enact change, they should stand alongside them during the fight. 

“Legislators are elected officials and care about what voters think,” Stringer said. "They know that talking to a young person is a proxy for talking to many others."

Reach the columnist at amsnyde6@asu.edu or follow @AnnieSnyder718 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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