College students can effect change through election participation


You may have seen several on-campus organizations such as RU Voting offering to help you register to vote these past few weeks. The registration period is now over, but there is still one important step to attend to: actually voting. It’s that time of the year, with elections on the horizon, but not everyone is focused on the upcoming races. Various challenges keep college students from paying attention to politics. We all have incredibly busy schedules built around grueling classes and extracurricular activities. This is the understandable reality of our hectic lives. But the importance of participating in the political process cannot be understated, and students need to make time for being politically aware and informed. Making the effort to vote is essential to ensuring our democracy represents the values of its citizens. Politicians base their actions on the way people cast their ballots. If people feel strongly about a particular policy but don’t show it at the polls, then the issue won’t be addressed.

Politics affects everything: funding for science programs and research, college tuition, immigration, the economy, job security and much more.

It touches everyone’s lives in one way or another, and that alone is reason enough to stay informed on the issues at hand. It doesn’t take much to stay up to date. Read the newspaper, check out the nightly news, go on a political news website for 15 minutes a day instead of Facebook — and when you find some compelling election news, share it on Facebook yourself. Being an informed voter allows you to have a say in the way our society is run. Without knowledge of at least general talking points in today’s political arena, how would you know when a new law or court ruling could directly impact you?

College students like to point out what is wrong with our government and the problems they have with it. But too often we forget the power we hold. The politicians and policy-makers work for us — they are our representatives. If you have a concern with the way our elected officials are representing your interests, then your nearest polling location is the place to tell them. The millennial generation has enormous potential. We are highly educated, extremely large in number, and we have access to technological advances that allow us to communicate in ways that previous generations never had. One person might not single-handedly change the face of politics in our country, but a collective voice would make it much easier. So the next time you see someone trying to register voters, don’t just crank your music up louder and walk by. Take a second and think about what you’re capable of just by filling out a ballot.

Steven Mercadante is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science with a minor in economics. He is the RU Voting Student Coordinator. 


Steven Mercadante

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