When I started school in the fall, one of the places where I found a home was in the weekly meeting held by the Columbia University Democrats. Now, I don’t usually talk about politics on this blog, but it’s pretty obvious on my Twitter account where I lie on the political map. In the recent months, I feel like I’ve become more politically aware, and also have become far more active politically. However, sometimes it becomes difficult in college to know how to be active politically, and also find time to read the news and stay current. I’ve listed out some of my tips on how to accomplish both of these things during a busy school year in this post and hope they help!
1. Follow a variety of news sources on your favorite social media platforms
I’m a firm supporter of the New York Times, and they are definitely my most read newspaper, but I also read CNN, The Washington Post, Politico and many other news sources. However, in addition to reading the news by directly going to these sites, I follow all of these sites on Twitter, and I love the New York Times on Instagram as well. I highly recommend including news sources on your social media feeds so that you can see news in your feeds frequently.
2. Check out your school’s political organizations
Personally, joining Columbia Democrats has allowed me to become more educated on political issues I wasn’t well educated about, and also helped me to broaden my scope of thought. Having political conversations with people from all over the country from a variety of backgrounds has been an indispensable experience that has given me a better context for interpreting current events. Also, having an organization to talk about current events with has been incredibly beneficial in helping me to digest the news and form an informed opinion.
3. Get to know your local officials
I’m going to an out-of-state school, and so this is one of my goals for the coming year. I want to gain a better understanding of where New York officials stand on political issues, and also learn more about how the New York state Legislature works. I highly encourage students who have gone to a new state for college to learn more about the state they’ve moved to!
4. Volunteer and organize!
Canvassing for Hillary Clinton was one of the most powerful and transformative experiences of my life. I urge everyone to canvass at least once for an issue, a person, or a piece of legislation they feel passionate about because it will give you this incredible feeling inside–it left me feeling like I truly create change. So get involve! You can canvass and organize constantly, and it’s work that must be done.
5. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions–but be cognizant of the words you use
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past few months is the importance of word choice when it comes to talking about politics. It’s very easy to use a word that misrepresents what you mean and suddenly your sentiment is lost along the way. So, while it’s vital that you speak up and have conversations about politics, it’s even more important that you are aware of your word choice and avoid inflicting harm with your words.
This was a bit of an unconventional post, but one that’s incredibly important to me! Let me know in comments some of your suggestions for being politically active when a busy schedule makes it difficult.