Students showing more interest in local and state government vital to democracy
On Sunday, Oct. 16, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Russ Feingold and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) were in the Falcon’s Nest in the University Center, campaigning for Feingold as one of his many stops around the state.
On Tuesday, Oct. 18, a forum for local legislative candidates for Senate District 10 and Assembly District 30 was held in the Riverview Ballroom in the University Center. It featured panel discussions and the presence of five candidates: Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and Diane Odeen (D-River Falls), Scott Nelson (D-Hudson), Aaron Taylor (I-River Falls) and Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls).
Many students did not know about Sunday’s event at all, while a Student Voice reporter counted approximately 60 audience members at Tuesday’s event. Very few in attendance actually appeared to be typical college age, and that is a shame. Topics included things that are certainly pertinent to students, like college affordability and climate change.
Part of it is our fault, as students, for not seeking out and attending these events. However, the events have not been advertised sufficiently in ways that typically catch a student’s attention. A simple mention in the Falcon Daily e-newsletter is not enough.
We need posters. We need our professors to talk about these people in class. We need examples and discussions focused around the government at a local level, not just at a national one. We need to know in advance that these events are happening and be encouraged to attend.
Most importantly, we have to want to be informed. Not everyone enjoys sitting in an audience and listening to speeches, and that is OK. A simple Google search will suffice. We can’t limit our political knowledge to the presidential level, because there is so much more going on in other areas of our government.
Take the time to learn about what it is these candidates care about and what they are promising. Find out who best reflects your interests and opinions and support them. Actively seek out this knowledge and make a point to encourage others to do the same. Don’t just focus on Election Day this Nov. 8 as the beginning and end of your political engagement.