Editorial 11.2.12: Election Day calls for student engagement

For a good portion of students, this will be the first time you are old enough to vote in a presidential election. And depending on how many degrees you plan to pursue, this may be your only time to vote while you’re attending a university.

Bradley is often called politically “apathetic,” and compared to other universities, it’s not an unfair label. This is still a college campus. You are surrounded by thousands of peers, all of whom have opinions to share on something, no matter how miniscule. You can’t find that kind of atmosphere anywhere else but at a university.

Even for Bradley, this is an exciting time. Regardless of who will be in office in January, you will likely be able to remember this election years down the line. You might recall talking about in class, discussing it with friends, or checking on the results as the votes are tallied next Tuesday. And the more involved you are during election season, the more exciting it will be.

A lot of people shrug off the idea of voting. They believe that because their one vote will not sway the election, that they shouldn’t vote at all. But it’s not about how much weight that one vote carries; it’s about participating in a right, and being a part of the whole.

It’s about activity rather than passivity, and participating simply for the sake of engagement. Casting a vote is not just selecting a name, either; it’s an excellent excuse to learn a thing or two about the issues that matter most to Americans, and most to you. We’re not just talking about taking things at face value, either. Knowing the facets of key issues and where the candidates stand with them is worth your time, and it’s a skill you’re going to need forever.

College is a time to start figuring out what makes you, and others, tick. Know what you stand for and discuss it with others. What’s your take on gun control, abortion and gay rights? More importantly, why do you take that stance? Take advantage of the opportunity to pick the brains of other students and to get involved in something larger than yourselves.

Youth voters were incredibly determined in 2008, flocking to the polls in numbers that hadn’t been seen in decades. This election is a completely different animal, but it’s still a critical time in the United States. Get informed and get involved.

Don’t think of heading out to vote as a to-do list item. It’s a national tradition, something that every American has in common, despite where they stand on the political spectrum.  Take part in that. And on Nov. 6, wear your “I voted!” sticker with pride.