The university’s 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’s 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.
“We want to see students paying attention to issues that affect them,” said Juan Espinoza, the executive director of Program Board and a senior majoring in communication and international relations. “We also want to engage students in how to work better with public policy and public officials in creating avenues and routes for action.”
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’s unbiased focus will resonate with students.
“People’s decisions are often different when they’re not being pressured into anything and if they’re just presented with information instead of presented with just opinions. Their decisions will be dogmatic,” Bogda said. “I believe students should have the freedom to do so and the opportunity to do so.”
Students expect the initiative to be successful in encouraging the student body to become more engaged in the political arena.
“In college, it’s so easy to get too wrapped up in our academic lives,” said Anjali Shah, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering. “If you have students talking to students it’ll be more effective and it’s better than doing nothing.”
Students also believe that the initiative is important on campus because students can be apathetic about voting when they don’t see the relevance for their daily lives.
“In general I think that college students are indifferent because we feel we aren’t being directly affected by the laws that are being talked about,” Rhae Cisneros, an international relations major, said. “But the laws politicians are talking about already affect us. It’s our responsibility to become involved in these affairs.”
Some students consider college as an ideal setting to become more astute to the political arena.
“The purpose of college is learning how to be a functional citizen,” Carol Passarelli, a sophomore majoring in psychology and linguistics, said. “Focusing on political rights and obligations is an important part of that.”
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.
“Next semester we want to stretch the boundaries on what politics are,” Bogda said. “Right now we’re focusing on elections and next semester we’re focusing on applying politics to a specific area or interest.”
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.
“We want to continue politicizing ’SC so no one can say we have an apathetic or disengaged campus,” Bellamy said.