On college campuses across the U.S., students are moving into dormitories, fraternity or sorority houses, saying farewell to their parents and eagerly moving ever closer to their lives as independent, hard-working adults. And while their first priority remains studying with diligence as they seek to master the fundamentals of their courses and to matriculate through graduation, today’s students have been challenged to become more civically active.
Decades ago, most public middle school students were required to take a course entitled “civics” in which they learned about the nuances between America’s three forms of government, their roles, their histories and how democracy works in the U.S. Those students in the past also received lessons about the importance of voting and how it orders our electoral system.
Now, as the midterm elections approach, college students are being provided with information about absentee ballots, websites and apps — revised if not new ways to help students find a streamlines route to registering to vote and then doing so — not only this November but in each and every election.
Senior politicians often give short shrift to America’s college students, perhaps because of the small percentage of these young adults who actually vote. But when young adults put their mind to something, they can make a real difference. Just look at the actions this summer of students from Parkland, Florida, bound and determined to persuade legislators to enact gun reform.
Or, consider the youth who were willing to walk, sit in, go to jail, face water hoses, attack dogs and the batons of police officers during the civil rights movement — because they agreed with Dr. King and others and refused to continue being treated as second-class citizens.
Even if youth have yet to reach the age to legally vote, they can still volunteer in a myriad of ways. Student governments on campuses, from Howard to Hampton, or Tuskegee to Spelman are getting their fellow students excited, we hear, about becoming more politically aware and active.
And the first step is voting. There’s no time like the present.