Empowering the young to lift their voices

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By: Samira Kassem, Columnist

Over the past month or so, I have been inspired by the students of Parkland Florida who are acting out against gun violence after 17 of their classmates and teachers were murdered in the halls of their high school.
Republican lawmakers have been quick to say that these students are too young, emotional, and uneducated on the topic to be able to speak on it or make true change.

But is this student-led push for political change a new phenomenon?

I argue that it is not, and that it’s been proven extremely powerful throughout history. In the 1960’s, student activism became very popular all over the United States. During the civil rights movement, it was students who organized numerous sit-ins. At the University of Georgia in 1968, students organized a sit-in that protested the unequal treatment of women on college campuses and continued to fight and protest for this cause. It was students who gathered in protest of the Vietnam war.

The push for female and gay equal rights began on college campuses. Time and time again, it is on college campuses that social movements for justice begin. I believe that today’s young people have a new perspective on the world that is unique from any other generation.

According to a study by the University of California at Los Angeles, there has been an increase in student activism, and young people as a whole have moved further to the left in terms of their political views.
Nearly one in ten students expressed interest in participation in campus protests, the highest numbers in the last 50 years.

In 2015, the University of Missouri successfully forced their president to resign due to a lack of responsiveness to racial bias and on-campus discrimination. Young people are seeing other young people be successful in these movements, and it is inspiring more and more movements.

We no longer accept adults’ dismissal of our ideas and opinions, because when it comes down to it, it is our future that they are messing with. With all of this being said, I believe the worst thing we can be right now is silent.
I believe that now more than ever, it is our time to speak out and speak up for what we believe in.
Statistics show that 18-25 year olds would have elected Clinton in the last election with 504 electoral college votes.

This shows that change is coming, but we need to be sure to get out and vote and encourage our friends to vote.
0As young people, we can no longer afford to be silent, because this is our future on the line. We are more powerful than older generations give us credit for, and together we can enact real positive change.