This is an election year for the United States. It is not the year of a grand presidential election, with candidates making nightly news appearances and staging massive debates. It is the year of a midterm election, which often receives far less publicity and attention. But as college students, many people enrolled at UMBC are old enough to vote this year as long as they are interested enough in public affairs to do so.
Whether or not students are satisfied with the state of the country and our individual state’s policies, they have a responsibility to use the rights that makes this country a democracy. The decisions of UMBC students do not just affect the national stage; Maryland will also vote for the state’s governor this year, as well as refilling all of the seats in Maryland’s Senate and House of Delegates.
Part of exercising our right to vote is being informed about candidates for election and policies that will affect our daily life. Zak Korme, a junior biological sciences major, expressed a belief that being politically knowledgeable is important. He said, “I think when people are in the know, when they stay up to date on things, we can prevent the kind of things that we see around us nowadays.”
As Korme described, one important reason to be informed and to vote is the prevention of policies and rhetoric that one does not want to see. Another is to ensure that the changes that one does want to see are realized. Anu Osunnuyi, a freshman studying computer science, expressed this sentiment, saying, “I believe my vote counts and it’s very important to know what’s going on when it comes to voting so you make the right choices and make the community better.”
Osunnuyi added, “I feel that over time, as many of the issues hit home concerning our education system and things that happen to people, I know it becomes a weight on me that I have to take responsibility as a citizen to make sure that my voice is heard.”
Now more than ever it is easy to get discouraged and feel as though one’s voice, one’s vote, does not matter. There is a fatigue from the constant screaming and shouting launched from opposing sides of the political aisle. It is difficult to stay informed and it can feel as though it makes no difference. On the contrary, though, voting makes all the difference in the world.
“If you’re old enough to vote you have to know what you’re voting for exactly, what you believe in, what you feel is best for your country,” said Mahnoor Ahmed, a junior information systems major. “It’s going to affect you and your family, so it’s important.”
UMBC students have the power to shape the country’s government and thereby the country’s policies. That is a right that is not available in every country, and as people fortunate enough to have that power, students should use it to bring the country closer to what they envision.