By: Heidi Fods
Politics are not limited to a particular space, but have a knack for permeating all aspects of life. The growth of student political organizations on Concordia College’s campus demonstrates this situation, but it also raises questions about the importance of being politically engaged as a college student.
Like it or not, politics is present on Concordia College’s campus. The student leaders of Campus Democrats and Young Americans for Freedom have plans to reinforce this presence and its importance by organizing events on campus this year.
YAF has already gotten a head start on this with Cobber Expo, collaborating with the Student Government Association for Constitution Day, and setting up the 9/11 flag memorial in September. Future events on YAF’s official schedule include the following: educational tabling throughout the year; Freedom Week; and bringing conservative political commentator and former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan to campus as a speaker.
Additionally, Alyssa Neistadt and Elsie Graupmann – the president and vice-president of Young Americans for Freedom, respectively – are excited to have the Campus Dems active again. YAF plans to reach out to the Campus Dems and potentially coordinate debates on campus. Their plans for debates include having a official debate between Republican and Democrat speakers, and debates between students on hot topic issues.
Chair of Campus Dems, Natalie Siede, says Campus Democrats are also formulating plans for this school year. Thus far, they have tabled in the atrium and are brainstorming and planning other potential initiatives.
The SGA is also promoting civic engagement on campus in a number of ways. A few of these include the events of Civic Engagement Week, which occurred the week of Monday, October 29th, promoting student voting, and publicizing free transportation to the polls for midterm elections.
The abundance of political and civic activity on campus this year speaks to the importance of being politically engaged as a student, and a number of campus leaders support this political and civic engagement. The SGA stated in an email response that for thoughtfully informed students to be sent out into the world “it is very important that we have clubs on campus such as SGA, Campus Dems, and YAF to help educate our students on different perspectives and opinions.”
Student leaders of Young Americans for Freedom and Campus Democrats had similar responses. Alyssa Neistadt emphasized the skills college students derive from being politically active. It provides opportunities to empathize and think about “your character, and who you are, and what you stand for, and what you believe (which) is really important to have on a college campus,” Neistadt said.
The Campus Democrats Vice Chair, David Kelm, expressed the same level of enthusiasm for politics on campus. Kelm stated that he “definitely” believes it is important to have politics and politically involved students present on campus. He said that without politics “you’re not readying yourself for the real world, and you’re also not readying yourself to be an active participant in the community and society.”
Additionally, the apparent omnipresence of politics influences its perceived importance, both on and off campus. Elsie Graupmann emphasized how politics encompasses “every aspect of life.” The media’s current focus on politics at both the national and international levels, the involvement of politics in the classroom and in daily conversation, may add to this perception. As Graupmann said, politics is there “whether you want it to be or not.”