/ The Daily OrangeLiberal
Syracuse University offers many opportunities for getting involved with politics
When Secretary of State and former first lady Hillary Clinton visited campus last year, she left us with one particular gem about politics and how it relates to our lives. To paraphrase her very long quote, she said that every time we have to work with people — individuals or groups — politics is involved.
Regardless of how intimidating, boring or unseemly “capital P politics” may be in our governments and institutions, we deal with “small p politics” every time we walk out the door. Whether it’s your church, your family or your classmates, we all have to work in the political process. People who don’t are people we call socially awkward.
Unfortunately, students can often fail to bridge the gap between the two. Syracuse University is, if nothing else, a fun place to go to school — it isn’t populated (entirely) by awkward people.
On the other hand, the number of students participating in “capital P politics” is surprisingly low, especially compared to some very active campuses across the country and in stark contrast to our university’s history as a hotbed of protest during the Vietnam War.
The most likely reasons are that students feel what happens in our governments doesn’t affect them all that much, or simply that nothing they do can make a difference. Neither could be further from the truth.
Nationally, look at the recent issue of student loan interest rates. It’s a boring issue and the debate around it was disheartening.
At the end of the day, one side was fighting for a policy that would have cost nearly every student at SU thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their loans, while the other was advocating to keep college from becoming more expensive.
Even on campus, our Student Association deals with issues that have a big effect on students’ lives. Take the recent push for medical amnesty. If implemented, full medical amnesty would ensure students admitted to local hospitals for underage drinking-related injuries, such as alcohol poisoning, would not be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs for seeking the medical attention they need.
While this isn’t what SA eventually decided to push for, I’m sure everyone knows someone who should have seen a doctor one night but didn’t for fear of punishment from the university.
By choosing not to get involved in the process, you are saying that you don’t mind paying thousands more for college and that you’re really not that worried about that kid with alcohol poisoning.
Fortunately, there are tons of opportunities here to make your voice heard. One of the best ways to make sure your experience as a student at this university is better is to join SA — SU’s undergraduate student government, which does so much great, and often thankless, work on behalf of the students.
There are a number of organizations that work to influence local, state and national government, including The College Democrats (which is awesome) and The College Republicans (which is less awesome). There are also many organizations that advocate for specific issues or constituencies, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Students Advocating Sexual Safety and Empowerment/Voices of Planned Parenthood, and Pride Union.
All these organizations and more can be contacted via Orgsync or by contacting the Office of Student Activities.
In short, you’re in college now. There’s no excuse not to take an active role in shaping your own future in our democracy. Register to vote. Give candidates a quick Google search so you’re informed. Know at least a couple issues you can be passionate about. Otherwise, I know a guy in North Korea who would be glad to make those decisions for you.
Colin Crowley is a senior political science and philosophy major. His column appears online weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @colincrowley.
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