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Being a Student in Today’s Political World…

by Laura Vazquez

As a residential student in my second year of university in a Baltimore-area college, you would think that I have finally figured myself out in terms of beliefs and political views, but in fact, I am still making the journey to do just that.

I’ve read a few articles about how your college major may influence your political beliefs, but what about college itself? It seems like a very general question, considering that factors such as location, cost and population can all count, but I feel it is an important question nonetheless. University students, I believe, are also an important group for presidential candidates to reach out to. (Not only are most of us of age to vote, but we are also swallowed by student loans, an issue that presidential candidates are sometimes asked about.)

I am fortunate enough to attend a university where diversity is a plus, and opening myself up to such divergent characters makes me wonder about my own political beliefs. They have broadened, but sometimes I feel more confused than ever before. Who influences me?

Mostly my peers. They are the ones you are surrounded by 24/7. You have your friends who are apathetic, but then you have your friends who are willing to raise their voice about issues they believe in.

Not only can peers have a good amount of influence on your opinions, but professors can as well. They are the ones who teach us every week, and who casually, but sometimes very often, slip their opinions into lecture, and try to back up their claim with knowledge.

Being in college has definitely encouraged me to get more involved. It is refreshing to see students my age trying to raise campus awareness about any issue they’re passionate about. Especially with the national elections underway, I find myself constantly reading news sources, such as CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Being a university student also encourages me to take the time to listen to other people’s opinions. Today, I take my peers’ standpoints with thoughtful deliberation instead of returning with a quick rebuttal. Despite my apparent confusion, I am constantly learning more about myself as I involve myself more and more.

Tell me, can being a college student change your political beliefs? Strengthen them? Does it depend where you go to school? Let me know your thoughts.

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