Commentary: Students Should Be More Engaged

Courtsey Theresa Thompson from the Flickr Creative Commons.
Courtsey of Theresa Thompson from the Flickr Creative Commons.

 

There is an old saying “if you can’t love yourself, how do you expect anyone else to?” Why haven’t people realize the same applies to politics?

According to the Pew Research Center, the United States trails way behind other developed countries when it comes to voter turnout. In the U.S. 2012 election, voter turnout was only 53.6 percent. In comparison, voter turnout in Belgium is 87.2 percent and 86.4 percent in Turkey. 

On an obviously smaller scale, only 8.7 percent of students voted in the 2014 student government election at Central Michigan University. There was a SGA election last spring as well, but President Chuck Mahone ran uncontested. In that election, only about 3.5 percent of CMU students voted.

What happens when citizens choose to not let their voices heard? Well, their needs and wants get ignored.

Here are some examples of legislation in Michigan that can directly impact CMU students, which you may not know about.

Senate Bill 250 would allow employers to pay workers under 20 85 percent of the state’s minimum wage or the full federal minimum wage– whichever is higher. Current Michigan law allows employers to pay people under 18 less, but this law would extend it for two more years.

Senate Bill 353 would make underage drinking a civil infraction for the first two violations. The first violation would be a $100 fine and the second violation would be a $200 fine. The third violation would be a misdemeanor.

Under current law, a first time someone under 21 is caught with alcohol it’s a misdemeanor. However, most people can defer it and keep it off their record. A second violation for underage drinking cannot be deferred.

House Joint Resolution O would amend the Michigan constitution to require governing boards of Michigan’s public universities to open all of their meetings to the public. The current constitution requires all “formal sessions” to be open. The change would require all meetings to be open.  

My guess is that one or all of these bills would invoke strong feelings from students. Why haven’t we seen students support or protest these bills?

One reason is young people are less likely to keep up with the news. According to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Americans under 30 read the news daily. That’s compared to 60 percent of older Americans.

Even I, as someone planning a career in journalism, can admit the media is not perfect.

It doesn’t change the fact people in power are making decisions everyday that affect you. If you are unaware, you can’t say or do anything about it.

So, as this election and school year rolls around, please be engaged. But also, feel empowered to make your voice heard. If there is something you don’t like, do something about it.

CMU Insider will be posting every Wednesday round-up of the week’s  important news. We also retweet storied from other news outlets on our Twitter.

But also feel empowered to make your voice heard. If there is something you don’t like, do something about it.

Arielle Hines is the editor of CMU Insider. You can email her at hines1as@cmich.edu. 

Views expressed in opinion and commentary articles do not necessarily reflect the views of management or employees of CMU Insider. 

 


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