Activism is great, but voting is the real deal

Activism is great, but voting is the real deal

Activism is great, but voting is the real deal
January 25
15:15 2018

Like most college campuses across the nation, UNT showcases many progressive movements. From protesting controversial statues and monuments to organized classroom “walk-outs,” it seems like activism and college students go hand-in-hand.

In an environment where social media is instrumental to students’ lives, the social brand of being an “activist” and posting iron fist selfies to Instagram has become a fashionable way to pat oneself on the back and claim progressive values.

But in considering tangible change that’s been made, we find the real activism lies in the simple act of voting.

This seems obvious, of course. We hear about it all the time.

But if that’s the case, why don’t our representatives reflect the ideals these students make apparent at marches and protests? It would only make sense, especially when considering that in 2016 millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation.

Clearly, there is some sort of disconnect here. Still there remain some who refrain from voting.

The answer: college-aged students. Millennial turnout in the 2016 elections increased but remained mostly stagnant in the long run at 49 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. The Greatest Generation, baby boomers and Generation X turned out at rates of 70 percent, 69 percent and 63 percent respectively,

While millennials may have become a huge demographic in this country, it seems that faith in the system has been shaken.

It’s far too easy to paint a poster, shout catchy chants and spend the afternoon with like-minded individuals.

This is not to say that getting out there and protesting isn’t activism — raising awareness is a part of the process.

The problem is those who stop short.

A lack of awareness is only part of the problem. For real impact to be made, students must see their goals through to the end.

The reality is that if these students actually took the time to vote, they could potentially change the dynamic of this country, let alone the political atmosphere of Denton.

The reality that college students are unmotivated to vote but are more inclined to pick up a picket sign explains that we have become far too busy and, above all, lazy.

If students aren’t voting, then who is?

To be completely honest, registering to vote takes time. It takes about five to seven weeks to receive your registration card, and even then, researching candidates takes time as well.

It also costs $0 to register to vote. You can even register online, while laying in bed. There are thousands of books, articles and research papers about candidates and laws, and the internet and libraries are free, too.

Let’s not ignore the reality that there are undeniably roadblocks to the voting process — voter ID laws, inopportune polling hours, gerrymandering and sometimes inconvenient polling locations.

But sometimes, if we as a society want to affect long-term change, people have to put in more effort.

And sometimes we have to start small. Start local. Shift the paradigm first of this small college town, and slowly the dominoes will begin to fall one by one.

Featured Image: Illustration by Allison Shuckman

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Nina Quatrino

Nina Quatrino

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