Students need to prove their political convictions

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • September 27, 2012

Students at Emerson are often trained to be creative and risk-averse, many opting for professions in film, marketing, and social media. We cling to the non-traditional rungs of social hierarchy — but if we are unwilling to immerse ourselves in the world of politics, why should we expect anyone else to?

At an event featuring State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez and City Councilor-at-Large of Boston Felix Arroyo on Tuesday, a mere 14 Emerson students were in attendance. For a program titled “This is How We Get Politically Involved,” our campus clearly showed a lack of interest for engaging in political discussion.

The college is famously liberal, enough so that in a recent poster the fledgling  Emerson Republicans represented themselves as a unicorn, calling it the only thing rarer at the college than a Republican. Students hold their weathered MacBooks together with Obama-Biden stickers, flood Facebook with Huffington Post links, and react to the name “Mitt Romney” like he was Lord Voldemort. 

But self-branding and social media sharing doesn’t make one active in politics — physical presence does. The two Democratic lawmakers that visited our campus this week spoke to a room where that physical presence was sorely missing.

Emerson undergrads, many of whom are eligible to vote for the first time, will have to make a choice before the first ballots are cast this November. That choice is whether they merely want to be perceived as politically active, or roll their sleeves up and become a part of the process. You may follow Barack Obama on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, but you can’t vote by tweeting or reblogging.

Those at Emerson registered to vote in Massachusetts can take part in what may be 2012’s most visible race, after the White House. The Senate race between GOP incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren may decide which party takes control of the Senate, and has drawn more money than any other congressional race in the nation. Brown and Warren have fought each other to a relative standstill in the polls, promising that election day will be a nail-biter. With the stakes so high and the outcome so uncertain, Emerson students that claim to be interested in politics — whether they are the “Hope and Change” poster-hanging plurality, or the proudly cryptozoological Republicans — can’t sit on the sidelines.

National Voter Registration Day was this Tuesday, the same day that Sanchez and Arroyo addressed empty chairs on campus. But the voter registration window for Massachusetts doesn’t close until October 17th. Get your hands dirty, and vote.