We all like to believe we're informed individuals, for the most part. We read the New Yorker. We skimm over headlines — we may even follow a few news stations on Twitter. Trying to maneuver the ever-changing waves of politics and world news, it can become hard to keep up sometimes; and sometimes, it's easier to shut the world out completely. We all have our own complex, busy lives to maintain on top of it all.
I'll be the first to admit, while having my due-diligence binoculars trained and focused on the decision-makers of my community, I'm quick to swap their industrial lens out for a rose-colored one instead. I find myself willing to resign to the comfort that it will all work out and that the "grander scheme" of things won't be impacted if I don't play a role. Let's be honest, we've all believed the grass to be greener on the other side, even when we know it hasn’t rained in months.
What we learn too late however, is that a bird's-eye view on any political institution is a long, hard fall when the gravity of their power yanks you down into one shared reality — the decision-makers, and those represented by the decision-makers. On a national level, we are seeing a rise in tension, conflict and protests towards those in power, pressuring them to make decisions that represent the constituent's beliefs. We see this on a campus-wide community level as well — ASUP may make decisions that have the potential to polarize constituents into groups of approval or disapproval. And while both parties may have valid arguments, there's an elephant-shaped question standing in the middle of the room — why didn't the party in opposition speak up sooner? Why didn't they know?
Being an informed activist within a community is a lot easier said than done. For some, it's second nature to seek out representatives, to ask questions, to want to be involved. For others, that’s not the case — and that's OK. As ASUP representatives, we realized that listening in on three-hour Senate meetings is not everyone's ideal way to spend a Monday evening. Reading the meeting minutes is informative but can be tedious. And while we're a small campus, reaching out to representatives — and how to do so — may not be common knowledge.
We realized that while our information is, at the very basic definition of the word, accessible, we wanted to ensure that we are also doing our part to promote information in a way that students want to receive information. We came to understand that not all students are reaching us through these methods — and with that being understood, we've decided to try bringing ASUP to you.
This Thursday, at 7:00pm on the quiet side of the Commons, we will be hosting our yearly ASUP Speech Night. Through working with CPB, this yearly tradition will be transformed into a formal event, with food, drinks, music and an opportunity for your ASUP candidates to not only defend their platforms, but to answer your questions. While a lot of hard work and planning has gone into this event thus far, we cannot consider this evening a success without the main event: you.
Everything looks a lot smaller from a birds-eye view, but small steps in any given direction can have a major impact on your community. It's our hope that you continue to reach out to your representatives — that you try to read the meeting minutes when you get a chance, sign up for the ASUP newsletter, or even attend a Senate meeting. And to meet you halfway, we're always listening — and this year, in one form or another, you asked us to expand the accessibility of ASUP beyond the walls of St. Mary's. Therefore, this Thursday we welcome your questions, your voice, and ultimately, your choice, at our ASUP Speech Night.
Jacque Nelson is a senior Organizational Communication major and Political Science minor. She can be reached at email@example.com.