Will CSUN students vote in the 2018 midterm election?

political cartoon

After such a politically divisive year in our country, filled with numerous protests and walk-outs across college campuses, one would assume that college students would be more inclined than ever before to go vote in this upcoming midterm election.

However, when I asked a group of CSUN students if they were going to vote, some seemed puzzled. Instead of asking about the upcoming midterms, they instead assumed I was talking about the student body election.

When I provided more information on the subject, I was shocked to learn that many students were mostly unaware of the next midterm election taking place on Nov. 6.

Although, after taking some time to think about their responses, it does make some sense. The average age of a CSUN student is 22 years old, according to CSUN’s Institutional Research Department. The majority of CSUN students come from working-class backgrounds, work part-time and don’t have reliable transportation to and from school, all while balancing a full course load.

In addition to the aforementioned, many students may feel powerless or not well-versed in what is at stake this November. As a university, how are we helping students get more politically engaged? I am all for protesting and demonstrating your first amendment rights, but the most effective way to utilize your voice is to vote.

I am glad to see that students from Journalism’s News Literacy and Communication Studies’ Advanced Public Speaking courses will facilitate a two-day election prep event, called the California Voter Forum, on Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and on Oct. 31 from 9:30 a.m. – noon.

How else can we get more students to the polls? How can we show students the impact that their vote has? I think that it is vital for every professor, no matter what their political affiliation is, to encourage students to vote.

Not only should professors encourage students to vote but I suggest that they take at least five minutes to explain how decisions made in Sacramento and Washington D.C. affect them.

I am sympathetic to the long waits that can happen at polling booths or trying to find time in between class and work to make an effort to vote. I also understand that it takes time to fill out an absentee ballot, but I am urging students to think of that time as an investment in their future.

College-aged students continue to represent the smallest voting demographic in the United States. It is encouraging that students are beginning to see how they can force more and more politicians to address the issues that face them, ranging from gun violence, access to affordable health care and college debt.

Now it is my hope that more and more students will vote not only to make a difference, but to feel empowered.