by Cindy Liu, Opinions Writer
graphic by Heewon Chang and Emily Zhang
The First Amendment grants freedom of speech to every American. The First Amendment sets America apart from the rest of the world and allows American citizens, including students, to voice their opinions freely. With almost 2,000 students, we have a student body with diverse opinions and political beliefs. To increase political awareness in the student body, encourage active citizenship and give students an opportunity to encounter opinions unlike their own, speakers who come to South should be allowed to share political messages.
Although political news is easily accessible on the internet, no individual can be entirely aware of every political issue at a given moment. Students may see scattered pieces of information on a certain issue online; however, they can and should not formulate their own opinions without full knowledge on the topic.
When South invites speakers to share political messages, they invite new opinions and perspectives into the school. These speakers can be from a political or non-political background, what is important is the diversity of perspectives. It is important to invite multiple speakers to talk about any given political issue so that students can see a broad range of beliefs and insight.
With this newfound knowledge of a given political issue, students can start to develop their own informed opinions. The world is far from perfect, and young people are the future engine of all political change. Political engagement in the student body is crucial for the future success of our country.
According to Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, however, less than half of young Americans (18-24) vote. Not enough young people are not exposed to or educated about political issues, which results in their passiveness towards politics. Politics can be quite intimidating, and if young people are not well-informed, they often opt out of participation. By inviting speakers to talk about politics, South can spark more interest and cause students to be more politically active.
The harsh reality is that politics in this country are highly polarizing. Teachers and many adults avoid political conversations with students due to how controversial they can become. Despite the innate controversy, talking about politics in a non-escalatory manner is necessary for the real world. Students have to learn that their views may not align with the views of those around them.
Political opinions fall along a spectrum, and, thus, there are neither explicitly correct nor incorrect answers to a given issue. The majority of South students share relatively similar political views, which can restrain students’ minds in a bubble. There is a danger to a lack of a new or outside perspective, as the students can become close-minded.
A variety of political speakers can model for students that the real world is full of disputes and how to deal with opposing opinions with an open mind through their different beliefs. When students are exposed to political issues at a young age, they are better equipped to deal with them as adults.
Many people think that students are not mature enough to take political stances, that students aren’t mature enough to process these complex issues emotionally and intellectually. But, if students are not exposed to our increasingly polarizing world at a young age, it becomes more difficult for them to engage and participate in those tough conversations in the future.
Speakers who come to South are highly educated and experienced individuals, meaning they can teach more inexperienced students how to approach global issues. Inspired by these speakers, students can go their own directions and involve themselves in the causes they care about. The younger generation is the future, and in order to propel the political progress in our nation forward, South must expose its students to politics.