Political clubs show process in action
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 04:10
Do you want higher taxes? Do you support environmental conservation? Where do you stand on the abortion debate? Though these are personal questions, they will largely be answered through government rulings, and knowing how the United States political system works is the best way of making your voice heard in these conversations.
Campus political clubs can serve as an important first step for students looking to become involved with local, state or federal politics. These clubs can provide a welcoming environment for students to learn about politics at their own pace with friends and classmates who share their principles and concerns.
Currently, there are no practicing political organizations on the Plattsburgh State campus. Though the Student Association allows students to work in a simulated government structure, the value of learning about and working within the actual United States political process should not be underestimated.
As with any subject studied at PSUC, politics is best learned in a group where ideas can be shared, discussed and put into action. This action can extend beyond simply encouraging students to vote. Students involved in political clubs can apply their lessons by directly supporting local politicians and political movements.
Club members can support local candidates during election time through door-to-door and phone call campaigning, while supporting local activist groups through rallies and public relations campaigns.
Though any individual student could also become involved with these causes, joining as part of a group can provide an extra level of support and motivation.
That’s not to say that political clubs can’t have an impact on campus as well. Looking through the recent history of politics at PSUC shows a number of events sponsored and organized by PSUC political groups.
In 2006, Congressional candidate Bob Johnson spoke at a campus panel organized by the College Democrats and Progressives.
In 2008, when the SUNY Board of Trustees announced a $620 raise in tuition for the fall semester, it was the Democrats and Progressives together with the Republican Plattsburgh State Reds that organized a protest of the raise.
In 2009, when the Westboro Baptist Church announced a campus protest, it was the Democrats and Progressives who created a unity banner for students to sign and screened a documentary on the history of Westboro leader Fred Phelps.
This is not to say that such events could not have taken place on a campus with no political clubs. The Student Association has organized many protests, rallies and panels in the past, but organizing these events is only one of the association’s many responsibilities.
Clubs whose sole purposes are to inspire student political activity both on campus and across Plattsburgh would make for valuable additions to the campus environment. These clubs would also present opportunities to students interested in becoming involved in politics before and after graduation.
Such clubs would not have to be limited to supporting only Democrats and Republicans. Any political party could build their presence on campus while also teaching general political practices. Also, as the tuition rally showed, political clubs could join together to support bipartisan causes.
With the power of the student vote rising, it seems more important than ever to give that vote a voice. As with any political movement, all it takes is a single student to start a new club on campus and inspire a new generation of active and informed student voters.