The lack of well-paying jobs and rising student debt are two reasons students should pay attention to what elected officials are — or are not — doing, said political science Professor Nate Vanden Brook.
“These are things that directly affect you,” Vanden Brook said. “They don’t affect you in the future. They affect you today.”
Vanden Brook said students have the opportunity to make a difference by registering to vote.
Student Life will host a voter registration booth from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, and Wednesday, Sept. 16, in the College Union.
Vanden Brook said 18- to 25-year-olds don’t vote because they don’t feel they have a say.
“So basically you don’t feel your vote matters,” he said. “You don’t feel your government represents you. You don’t have money necessarily, so it’s harder to get involved in some ways.”
Voting is the most effective way to see an influence in government, Vanden Brook said. He said that’s why it is so critical for students to register, stay informed and cast their ballots when the time comes.
“Our government is founded on the consent of the people and the way in which people offer consent through voting,” he said. “And the most direct way for people to change and influence their government is through the ballot box.
“So if you don’t like what your elected officials are doing, vote for someone else.”
Theater major Cheyenne Clawson, a registered voter, said she thinks students need to understand what is going on in the world around them because if they just let nature or fate take its place, it will lead to chaos.
“I just feel like at this point in our lives — especially with how bad the economy has gotten and how we’re in college, struggling to get by — we need to know why things are the way they are and what we need to change,” Clawson said.
“The problem I’m seeing in America right now is that we’re at a constant standstill. We’re reluctant to change even though a majority, especially the millennials, are wanting something different. But they’re not willing to put forth the effort because they believe their vote doesn’t matter.”
Vanden Brook said a few websites students can visit to be more politically-informed are www.votesmart.org and www.vote411.org. He also recommended the non-partisan site www.politifact.com, which fact checks what is supposedly being said by officials.
“In a time with cuts to higher education, in a time with rising tuition rates, I think it’s critical for students to be paying attention to who is doing this and to vote accordingly,” he said.
For more information about voter registration, contact Student Life at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 405-682-7523.