By Sophia Carnevale
Arts and Entertainment Editor
With increasing climate change, nations on the cusp of war, and global poverty on the rise, it can be difficult to believe that one personâ€™s vote can make an actual difference in the world.
This can cause increased cynicism and apathy in voters, especially with millennials who are just entering the political conversation. Despite what one may think, there are a lot of ways that individuals can make a difference in politics today.
Here is a list of ways students can achieve political change in their community and make a real difference.
Intern or Volunteer on a Campaign:
Working for a local or state-wide campaign is an opportunity that is readily available to students looking for experience, and is a way to get a hands-on feel for politics.
â€œWe love to hear input from students because theyâ€™re able to bring in a new perspective,â€ said Ella Strain, an employee on the Dawn Ortiz-Legg campaign.
Strain started her career in politics by interning on a campaign herself and now she recruits other students who are looking for a similar experience.
According to Strain, interns help with the day to day responsibilities of the campaign and are given the same jobs as the campaign team.
â€œWe want our interns and volunteers to get as much out of this experience as possible,â€ said Strain.
Attend local City Council meetings:
Another way to be more involved in the policy-making that affects students is by attending city council meetings. Very few students actually attend the meetings, according to John Ashbaugh, San Luis Obispo City Council member .
â€œMost in attendance are permanent residents of the area and their lifestyles and the things that affect them are usually different from that of students,â€ said Ashbaugh.
In the past, the City Council has proven to be a helpful resource for studentsâ€™ voices to be heard, with their support of student concerns for the Cal Poly master plan. Currently facing the council is a proposal for noise complaints to be handled in private rather than with police intervention which will help students to get fewer misdemeanors.
â€œThe intent is to engage students and give them a chance to feel as though theyâ€™re being heard.â€ said Ashbaugh
City council meetings are held every first and third Tuesdays at 6 pm at City Hall.
Start a grassroots campaign:
For students that are passionate about specific issues and want to create change, starting a grassroots movement can be an effective way to make a difference.
â€œThey can be very effective, but they need dedication, good leadership, resources, and numbers,â€ said Kathryn Mulholland, a political science professor at Cuesta. â€œThe group can initiate action themselves via letters, emails, blogs, demonstrations, use of the media, etc., in order to pressure policy makers and influence public opinion.â€
San Luis Obispo County has a long history of grassroots movements, including Mothers of Peace, an organization started in 1969 by mothers concerned by the Vietnam War.
â€œ[Start] by simply asking questions and reaching outâ€ says Mulholland.
Start a political club on campus:
A political club is an effective way to meet and interact with like-minded people in oneâ€™s community.
â€œEach club offers students an opportunity to get involved and enhance our campus community,â€ said Dr. Anthony Gutierrez, the coordinator of Student Leadership on campus.
To get started, a club needs a president, vice president, three other students to sign, a faculty advisor, and a constitution according to Gutierrez.
Grassroots is one club that hopes to see policy change on campus, and although they donâ€™t affiliate themselves with a specific party or candidate, they work toward seeing change at Cuesta.
According to Melia, President of Grassroots, the club hopes to see administration limit energy, water, and paper use as well as start a garden on campus that the cafeteria could use.
â€œEveryone says they want change but they donâ€™t do anything about it. People can always be more involved.[…]Plus it looks great on college applications,â€ says Melia.