How can we work to engage more students in politics?

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General Election Coverage brought to you by LSU Media News

Nikki Ramos Clarkson

Often, young people fail to relate easily to politics and it is becoming increasingly evident that students in particular feel that politics is an issue far removed from their lives. This is where we are mistaken, as the issues that most affect us in our daily lives are central to what make up politics. Different parties hold different world views and ideologies and feel that they have the answers for solving the problems we face. Thereby, it is important for us as students to be engaged with politics as this enables us to have a voice and provides us with the skills necessary to make positive and informed decisions that will directly impact upon our future.

Promoting a higher level of engagement from students in politics comes from enhancing a higher level of understanding as to why the issues encompassed are important to us and our families, as well as developing critical thinking skills that will enable us to successfully debate the pros and cons of different political parties and their manifestos.  A way of doing this could be by introducing politics as a compulsory subject in secondary school. This would mean students would be engaged with politics at an earlier age and by learning from an interactive perspective (for example: participating in class debates or conducting presentations on the subject) this could implement a higher level of interest. Additionally, although some would argue that politics is not relevant to all university degree subjects, I found that having coursework directly related to politics fuelled my interest in it. As a communications and media student, earlier this year I had to analyse extracts from David Cameron’s Leader Speech that took place in Birmingham 2014. Consequently, by engaging with the contemporary political environment this further fuelled my interest in politics as a whole. Perhaps showing students how their subject matter can be related to politics and promoting an understanding as to how politics is relevant to their future chosen career field could encourage further engagement.

Additionally, marketing campaigns specifically targeting students and encouraging them to become more engaged in politics could be effective. Recently, over a plethora of social networking sites there have been attempts to encourage students to become more engaged in the upcoming elections by giving them the opportunity to register online to vote. A strategy used has included suggesting that students could receive fines if they do not vote. Personally, I feel this strategy is more of a blackmailing technique and consequently will not promote engagement in a positive way. Perhaps a way of encouraging engagement amongst students could be by creating marketing campaigns that emphasise the benefits of being up to date on politics. Stressing that a student will be more employable if they have a view and voice in regards to our contemporary political arena could promote a higher level of engagement and willingness to be proactive within the upcoming elections.

Finally, I would like to emphasise that our generation has become rather lazy because of how easy everything has become due to our contemporary media environment. This means that voting via post, proxy or in person becomes a tedious process for us students. A solution to this could be to innovate the voting process by introducing online voting. This could lead to a higher level of engagement amongst the student population as all that would be required is a few ‘clicks’ online: something we are so accustomed to within this day and age.

Be sure to check LSU Media News for updates on the General Election as well as comment pieces and general information to assist in making the right choice for you

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