Politics motivates youth activism, engagement

By Cynthia Martinez Soto
Flapjack staff

Social media today has shown the public that the youth age group is now an audience partaking in the political spectrum. Professors at Humboldt State University are noticing this change in youth’s agendas and students who have made themselves involved in organizations that have a call for political purposes have even spoken out on the complete rise of involvement seen from students on campus over the years. The growing interest with the youth group in politics might in fact begin altering many aspects of government in the years to come in the voting booths.

Kendall Furlough, an HSU freshman, attends  Women of Color, an organization that meets in a safe conversational space to discuss about issues and politics detrimental to women’s daily lives. Furlough said that every time the group meets, important issues come up that help enrich the young women’s education on social injustices brought forth by laws set in place that are meant to protect equality but end up hurting the justice system instead.

“It’s completely sad the stories or even news events that come up in our lives that end up hurting women in our society,” Furlough said. “It makes some of us feel emotional to hear and tell it but overall it makes us somewhat more educated when we hear it because then we learn it and we can then change it. Some of the things though that make things unfair for women are regulations that are meant to protect all of us guy and girls but instead it can end up failing only the women in the community.”

Young people like Furlough and many others are responding to a scary political landscape by becoming more politically engaged, perhaps, than they’ve been in decades. HSU professors say they’ve seen a demonstrable shift.

Nicolette Amann, an English professor at Humboldt State who has been teaching for around 12 years at the university, has seen students interest within the field of politics grow every year. She states that the growing interest is happening due to the rise in social media and the growing fear of governmental control in communities daily lives.

Amann said that the rise of emotion she sees in students is incredible as well when she gives them opportunity to speak out on political issues. She said it is important for her to come to class willing to share some current news she heard about at the start of every session to further push the youth audience into wanting to get more involved in society.

“Every group of young adults I get almost every year surprises me and teaches me something new,” Amann said. “The way these students are engaging with the topics I set forth in class is just beyond amazing to me.”

Amann said she believes students use social media for a bigger purpose than simply posting pictures and seeing what’s cool. They use social media as news.

“It’s causing them to invest time to establish an opinion on a political topic of discussion that is currently being debated over by our politicians,” Amann said. “I think they are bothering to invest some time in it because they might be growing a little scared about what could happen to the world around them especially due to the rising power that the government is now having in trying to control more of our daily lives.”

English teachers are not the only ones with feedback on seeing a growth of interest in the youth audience over politics.

Communications teacher Michael Bruner, who’s been teaching at Humboldt State for about 13 years, said it seems like the more students hate a politician the more they are willing to criticize them and therefore talk about them.

“You know it’s really funny seeing all these jokes on social media about our president but it seems to me that kids these days want to be more involved in politics because they just don’t like the way things are going right now,” Bruner said. “So they crack jokes and clown on Trump to make light of the bad situations that might affect them. He really is being criticized by our students and it makes students want to speak out on his flaws to their friends and it just gets the ball going almost like a chain reaction.”

Burner said it feels like students are becoming more connected due to the rising interest in politics. He stated that the student body seems to be joining together rather than being divided on issues more than ever. He said the need to come together is due in large part to the social injustices taking place currently by the people in office.

“Students in all my classes seem to be agreeing with one another and adding to one another’s points of views instead of arguing against one another, Bruner said. “One student will point out a current news story in class and another will state something like, ‘Yeah something similar to that happened here a few years back,’ and then another student will state how that’s disappointing and scary and then you know the whole classroom is heated on the social injustice unrest left on the country.”


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