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The Campus Lantern

The Campus Lantern

The Campus Lantern

SCHool Politics

Few things at SCH are as commonly discussed, or more divisive, than politics. Whether dropping into a classroom, strolling through the library, or observing the lunchroom, you won’t struggle to find a political conversation. It is clear that politics is on the mind of SCH, but I want to know more. I conducted a poll to find out what SCH was most passionate about, how SCH gets their news, and how SCH participates in the political system. After reviewing 62 poll responses and conducting a few interviews, here’s what I found.

Put simply, the SCH student population is generally left leaning. 61.3% of people considered themselves some type of liberal. The answers for centrist, moderate conservative, and conservative each got 12.9%. 53.2% of people said they considered themselves democrats, while only 17.7% considered themselves republicans, and 16.1% considered themselves independents. 

Unsurprisingly, people’s issues are commonly aligned with the party they are affiliated with. Democrats commonly said they were most passionate about civil issues, like gender, racial, and communal inequality. Republicans, on the other hand, said they cared more about immigration issues, economics, and the authenticity of the news. Some students seem to think that SCH’s leftist lean is the result of how the school talks about politics. When I asked a senior republican how they think SCH educates students about politics, they said they felt that “SCH should talk from a non-biased perspective.” The senior democrat I spoke to said that SCH offered “some other opinions,” and was “par for the course” compared to most high schools. The latter is certainly more true in Ms. Gross’s AP Government and Politics class, where she readily presents the beliefs of both major parties, as well as the facts of a topic. It is possible this happens in other classes, but my two AP classes are the only ones where I’ve had the experience this year.

In terms of news, most people rely on checking news websites, or hearing about something on social media, rather than watching the evening news. However, most people don’t participate in official political events, like fundraisers or protests, while opting into informal discussions with classes, family, and friends. The senior democrat I spoke to worked as a poll worker during past elections, and said they plan to continue that practice for future elections. They also said that they try to keep an “informed opinion.” 

SCH’s political activity prospers when it is functioning on its own. Students participate in discussions with each other, they share ideas and thoughts about the events of the country and the world. They check news sites and social media when something has happened, or when they want to know what’s going on. When push comes to shove, they are doing things when they want to, and not when they have to. 

My point isn’t that SCH should stop holding political discussions in classrooms, or in places like Moments of Understanding. My point is that the majority of students only participate when it’s easy, which is harmful to the political process. All three of the students I spoke to either felt as if they “couldn’t do anything political,” or had no interest in doing anything political. One of the three was registered to vote, one was able to and chose not to, and one was planning to when he turned eighteen. In the poll, the amount of people saying they participated in informal discussions was far greater than the number who said they participated formally. 

The successes and flaws of SCH political mindset can be credited to both the administration at SCH and the students. Students do a good job simply talking about politics, and teachers do a good job of creating a space where such discussion is welcome. To improve, students need to get more involved in discussions outside of their immediate surroundings, as well as take more opportunities to express and take action for the ideas and candidates they are passionate about. In turn, SCH needs to provide more opportunities, like encouraging involvement in similar events to “Save The Train,” the voting drive that was recently put on, or mock debates and elections put on by interested upperclassmen. 

What I hope the SCH community can learn is that we all have an opportunity to influence the political process for the better, and in doing so, create positive change for the problems of the country. In turn, I hope the school administration, individual departments, and affinity groups offer more opportunities to work for the causes and ideas they believe in. It is worth mentioning that voting, the most important form of political action in my opinion, is only open to those who are eighteen and older. This means that around three quarters of SCH students can’t vote. For this reason, and many others, it is critical we find ways to get SCH students to politically participate. 

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