College-aged students are increasingly becoming politically active, especially with a presidential election approaching, and students at BGSU are no exception to this. BGSU is alive with students ready to make changes in both large and small-scale issues.
Madi Stump, a BGSU student running for a seat on city council, never thought she would be politically active until she came to college and began lobbying for sustainability measures. Stump has found through lobbying and attending city council meetings that her voice is always heard by local government.
“Our city council is extremely responsive to students which is something we should be incredibly grateful for, that is when students show up. When we go and speak, they listen to us,” Stump said.
College Democrats President Hayley Fournier differs from Stump in the sense that her decision to become politically active stems from her desire to be an advocate for all people. Nonetheless, Fournier seeks to advocate for her beliefs as well.
“I decided to become politically active after becoming more aware of current events around the world. There are so many injustices and infringements on human rights every day, and it seemed impossible for me to not take a stance on these issues,” Fournier said.
On campus, there are several ways to start engaging in politics and in one’s own beliefs. To Stump, the beginning step is to vote in every election.
“Make sure you are voting in every election that comes. Even those small elections are really important because those are going to have an impact on us and the people that come after us. It’s our duty as young voters to not just think of ourselves but also of the voices of those who cannot vote. We are starting a legacy they are going to step into,” Stump said.
Students also have the ability to join different political groups on campus such as BGSU College Democrats or BGSU College Republicans. In BGSU College Democrats, Fournier seeks to create a voice for all people to voice their opinions on their beliefs while working toward a better campus.
“Regardless of your political beliefs, it is so important for students to be politically aware. That’s the idea that I’ve tried to push forward with this organization,” Fournier said. “Making College Democrats an opportunity for students to speak freely about their beliefs and for them to know they can evoke change is so important to me.”
However, both Fournier and Stump believe a person who decides to become politically active should educate themselves on issues before voicing their opinions.
“Students should educate themselves on issues before forming opinions on them. Even if you completely disagree with me on an issue, I will value your opinion if you are well educated on the topic,” Fournier said. “Taking five minutes out of your day to educate yourself on important issues and then voting on them is such a simple task but can make such a huge impact.”
Although she agrees with Fournier, Stump believes personal connections to issues can be equally as powerful as statistics and facts.
“If you have experienced something that you want to change, you can go speak about that from your own perspective and still have as powerful an impact as someone who is coming to speak about the same issue with facts,” Stump said.
Regardless of how a person chooses to be politically active, Stump believes voicing one’s opinion is how this generation of college students is going to promote change.
“You as one student going to speak about this issue might inspire ten other students or ten other community members to speak about that. Sometimes all it takes is one person standing up and saying ‘this isn’t right. This is what I believe’ for other people to gain that confidence to also stand up for what they believe,” Stump said.