Contributed by: Katherine Chacon
In March, the Girl’s Empowerment Network hosted Girl’s Advocacy Day with the goal of inspiring young people to become involved in politics, whether that’s on a local or national level. This event was particularly important considering the rise of student activism that has resulted after the Parkland school shooting. More high school and middle students have now realized that just because they can’t vote doesn’t mean that they don’t have a say in legislation.
However, even with the rise of involvement in politics by young people, I’ve still noticed that my peers don’t really know how to be engaged when there isn’t a set march or protest happening. Because of that, I’m going to outline five different ways that students can be politically active.
1. Volunteering for a campaign
Considering that the 2018 midterms are approaching, finding a campaign to volunteer for is relatively easy to do. You don’t need to have any prior experience to volunteer, and it’s a great way to learn about issues that voters care about, as well as how to converse with people who have different opinions from yours. Volunteering often includes canvassing, attending events, and reaching out to potential voters.
2. Calling/writing letters to senators and representatives
This is one of the most obvious ways of being politically active, but is very important because if enough people do this then it can help sway your congressperson’s vote on a bill, or change their stance. A way to take this a step further is to encourage your friends to also contact your state’s legislators by hosting a letter writing party.
3. Joining organizations that are dedicated to a cause you’re interested in
There are many grassroots organizations dedicated to specific causes. If you are passionate about, for example, increasing opportunities for Latina women, you could volunteer with Latinitas. This is a way to hone in on a specific area that you are interested in and passionate about. It’s also a way to meaningfully impact the people in your community.
4. Starting a club
This could include starting a chapter of an organization at your school, or creating a club from scratch. By starting a club, you can host fundraising projects, or raise awareness for an issue you care about at your school. It’s also a way to gather everyone in your school that has the same passion about this issue. For example, if you notice a lack of diversity at your school, you can start a Diversity Club that aims to present about different cultures to the student body.
5. Attend City Council meetings and Town Halls
This can be a daunting task to do because Town Halls can be unpredictable. However, knowing legislation and policies that are being debated in your city are equally as important as understanding national policies. By going to these meetings, you’ll also be able to understand the political process on a local level.