The Mason Student as Voter

As I gather my thoughts for my first CLCE blog post, it is an election year.  As a Washingtonian and an educator focused on fostering civic engagement and leadership for social change, I can’t help but have the political engagement aspects of community engagement on the brain right now.

It’s also the beginning of a new school year.  There is some freshness in the air and many college educators are thinking about the subtle changes we see in each new student body as historical and social contexts continue to shape each generation.  (I was reminded this year on Sept 11th that our current Freshmen were about 7 years old that fateful day).  So I’m wondering – what  are today’s college student voters thinking about as they head into the last 5-6 weeks of campaigning?

The students I’ve talked to so far this semester are, like most people, passionate about the issues they have a personal connection to.  Their life experiences amaze me: creating and implementing a high school mentoring program, supporting a mom who survived domestic abuse and becoming a daily crisis center volunteer, supporting a disabled sibling and becoming an advocate, shifting a youth basketball program into a full-on mentorship program, and the many Mason students who are making meaning of their years of service in Iraq or Afghanistan even as they deal with course registration and buying books.

If I’ve learned one thing from my time at Mason – I’ve learned this:  you do not know the student in front of you until you ask.  Mason students take the term “non-traditional” to whole new levels.

So this is what is on my mind this week:  what does this mean about the Mason student as a voter?  Do these passions translate to the ballot box?


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