By Sohom Bhowmick
Young People are the key to our democracy and a large body of research helps us understand their experiences in adolescence and their attitudes which shape their values and the habits in the relation to Politics and Civil Society. Statistics shows us that half of Americans who are enrolled in college from the ages of 18 and 25 are not enrolled in college or have not completed college. The other half are offered more opportunities for civic and political engagement which often give them access to leadership positions in major institutions in United States and around the world.
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning Engagement have concluded their findings with participant group of 386 college students.
- Today’s College Students are more Engaged than Generation X was- They neither cynical or highly individualistic. These students have a great deal of experience with volunteering activities and who believe in their obligation to work together with other on social issues.
- Millennial are Involved Locally with other but are ambivalent about formal politics- The millennial appears to be much more comfortable and experienced with direct service than with politics, yet their feelings towards government, politicians and media are complex.
- Millennial Dislike spin and polarized debates and seek authentic opportunities to discuss public issues- Students perceive debates with no options for compromise and nuance. They do not like to competitive and confrontational atmosphere created by parties. Many have not developed opinions quite yet, and this may factor into their aversion to political parties.
At the end of the day students are looking for opportunities for discussion that are authentic not partisan or competitive. They value discussion where people aren’t trying to sell them on anything. Students often cite that the atmosphere created in focus groups are very desirable and effective. They prefer a non hostile and non divisive atmosphere. It seems important to provide opportunities to interact and reflect for students in campuses where campus bodies engagement is minimum.
Many students currently see politics as vehicle of change however they strongly believe it as inefficient and difficult one. Students want to participate and be more involved but they lack they idea on how they can engage or doubt their ability to create an impact. Today’s college students are fully engaged with the political system and they do not believe they are adequately informed or able to make a difference. For the most of the part these students are aware of the importance of policy and politics, conscious that is desirable to be informed and become engaged
Youth voter turnout rose substantially in 2004 and again in 2006, despite modest increases among older voters. Young people reported rising interest in the news and public affairs.
The above graph shows the percentage of people who have been involved in the volunteering and voting. The gap between volunteering and voting has been narrowed largely because voting has been increased along with an increased interest in news and public affairs.
Why has there been a difference?
Millennial have come to an age at a time closely contested national elections, ideological polarization’s, war and terrorist attacks. The parties and other groups are making deliberate efforts to mobilize young people to vote and to participate in other ways
The major news events and political outreach efforts have no doubt caught college students’ attention and made them aware that politics matters and that they ought to form opinions about it. Their opinions are in flux, as shown by the ambivalence of many of their answers in our focus groups. But they are trying to pay attention and are actively learning.
This year, we have had the youths from different parts of the world fighting for their believe. Joshua Wong and Nathan Law creators of the Umbrella Movement who brought ten of thousands of people to protest for pro democracy as they believed for a free movement The umbrella which represented a symbol of defiance and resistance against the Honk Kong police. Same could be said of Kanhaiya Kumar who was arrested for sedition for having anti-india slogans. He believed that the hanging of a terrorist was not just, and he organized a rally although he wasn’t shouting any slogans or anything against the integrity of the country. Over the next issues our editors will be reaching out to students all over the world who are creating an impact and developing civic engagement. Their voices will be heard and we at TiGEs will be promoting their efforts to give them an opportunity to reach people and hear them out.
About the Author
Sohom is a University of Iowa student studying Economics. He is currently studying Economics. A Transitions Labs alumni, well versed with all the programs. Beyond his academics, he works with professors, and in an engaged student. He volunteer in mentoring programs for international students in Iowa, where he collaborates with Iowa Dept. of education, School board, Not for Profits.