Initiative will bring politics to students
The university‚Äôs new political initiative on campus, PolitiSCize, will kick off its campaign on Monday to increase student involvement in politics. The Political Student Assembly within USC‚Äôs Program Board, a branch of Undergraduate Student Government, developed the yearlong initiative that focuses on raising political awareness within the student body.
The organization hopes to strengthen and foster more student engagement in politics at USC culture.
‚ÄúWe want to see students paying attention to issues that affect them,‚ÄĚ said Juan Espinoza, the executive director of Program Board and a senior majoring in communication and international relations. ‚ÄúWe also want to engage students in how to work better with public policy and public officials in creating avenues and routes for action.‚ÄĚ
To accomplish these goals, PolitiSCize is bringing politicians and opportunities for civic engagement directly to students. Ralph Nader, a former presidential candidate and independent political activist focused on humanitarian and environmental issues, will be on campus to speak to students on Monday.
A carnival-style event will also be held Tuesday on Trousdale Parkway where PolitiSCize members will register students to vote and offer information on fiscal policy education and propositions on the ballot.
A large and extended political initiative sponsored by a USC organization has not taken place on campus in recent history. Outside constituencies often come to campus in hopes of getting students to register to vote or support specific candidates.
Instead, PolitiSCize hopes to serve as a non-partisan outlet for students to gain information about politics in order to shape and make their own decisions. This could be particularly helpful considering that for most students this is the first election in which they have been legally eligible to participate.
Justin Bogda, a junior environmental studies and international relations major, is on the committee planning the PolitiSCize events. He stresses that the initiative‚Äôs unbiased focus will resonate with students.
‚ÄúPeople‚Äôs decisions are often different when they‚Äôre not being pressured into anything and if they‚Äôre just presented with information instead of presented with just opinions. Their decisions will be dogmatic,‚ÄĚ Bogda said. ‚ÄúI believe students should have the freedom to do so and the opportunity to do so.‚ÄĚ
Students expect the initiative to be successful in encouraging the student body to become more engaged in the political arena.
‚ÄúIn college, it‚Äôs so easy to get too wrapped up in our academic lives,‚ÄĚ said Anjali Shah, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering. ‚ÄúIf you have students talking to students it‚Äôll be more effective and it‚Äôs better than doing nothing.‚ÄĚ
Students also believe that the initiative is important on campus because students can be apathetic about voting when they don‚Äôt see the relevance for their daily lives.
‚ÄúIn general I think that college students are indifferent because we feel we aren‚Äôt being directly affected by the laws that are being talked about,‚ÄĚ Rhae Cisneros, an international relations major, said. ‚ÄúBut the laws politicians are talking about already affect us. It‚Äôs our responsibility to become involved in these affairs.‚ÄĚ
Some students consider college as an ideal setting to become more astute to the political arena.
‚ÄúThe purpose of college is learning how to be a functional citizen,‚ÄĚ Carol Passarelli, a sophomore majoring in psychology and linguistics, said. ‚ÄúFocusing on political rights and obligations is an important part of that.‚ÄĚ
Though PolitiSCize is currently working on events that raise interest for the upcoming presidential election, they want to continue providing information to student throughout the entire year.
‚ÄúNext semester we want to stretch the boundaries on what politics are,‚ÄĚ Bogda said. ‚ÄúRight now we‚Äôre focusing on elections and next semester we‚Äôre focusing on applying politics to a specific area or interest.‚ÄĚ
Jessica Bellamy, a junior majoring in political science and member on the PolitiSCize committee, views the initiative as having the potential to transform the political culture on campus for the years to come.
‚ÄúWe want to continue politicizing ‚ÄôSC so no one can say we have an apathetic or disengaged campus,‚ÄĚ Bellamy said.