How Students Can Have Political Influence

Rebecca Heimbrock, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Heimbrock

Lead a protest

There’s a lot going on in America right now, which means there’s a lot to fight against, and voting alone won’t cut it. One of the most effective ways to advocate for justice in your community is to hit the streets. Protests are effective for both short term and long term goals. In the short term, protests can scare politicians into changing their behaviors. Things like sit-ins, which directly confront legislators, are a very effective tool for that. On the flip side, according to The Atlantic, “In the long term, protests work because they can undermine the most important pillar of power: legitimacy.” So, if you can’t vote, or understand that not every issue can be solved by voting alone, take to the streets.

Call your representatives

Even if you didn’t vote for them, your local, state, and federal representatives work for you. This means that, as long as you’re in the right zip code, you can still hold them accountable. You can do this in a number of ways. Phone calls and letter-writing campaigns are both great ways to ensure that your elected representatives are hearing your demands.

Establish/donate to mutual aid 

In a time of economic certainty and civic unrest, many people who have taken to the streets have also established mutual aid. You can support their efforts with non-perishable food donations, fresh fruit and veggies, water and of course monetary donations. You can also set up your own mutual aid fund, but be sure that there’s not already one in your area. People in the DMV area can find mutual aid groups via https://www.empowerdc.org/community_resource_guide

Use social media  

Instagram/Twitter accounts to follow- recommended by the author.

Social media is the greatest tool available for spreading information. Create info-graphics about issues that are important to you and spread them on Instagram or Twitter. Social media is also a good way to stay informed about many issues. Make sure you’re following activists and news anchors to stay informed about everything going on in the world right now. You can also use social media to amplify calls for justice, such as spreading petitions and sharing protest information.

Hold your leaders accountable

Now that you have all the necessary tools, it’s your job to step up and fight for the causes you believe in– holding your leaders accountable in the process. Instagram graphics don’t save the day, show up and make sure your voice is heard.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Heimbrock