With midterm elections having recently concluded famous figures, from ex-presidents to celebrities, have joined in political activism. Many have voiced their political stance and emphasized the importance of voting. Deerfield has felt the effect of this growing push for voting and civic engagement.
Driven mostly by students’ desire to teach others how to become politically engaged, CSGC-run initiatives for political advocacy have become increasingly prominent on campus.
These events vary in purpose. Some focus on the process of registering to vote, as many Deerfield students are eligible to vote in this coming election. Others show students and members of the community how to actively advocate for issues that are important to them.
Science and Computer Science teacher, Megan Hayes-Golding, who has been active in these efforts explained, “The intent was to get students there who were thinking about voting in the next couple of years and maybe students who aren’t eligible to vote in order to learn how they can still advocate for causes they still care about. We educated folks on what a ballot looks like, what types of races are on a ballot, how to research causes you care about, and contact your representatives about those issues that you care about.”
Recognizing that the majority of the student body cannot vote because of age or nationality limitations, these community forums also inform students on other ways to be civically engaged.
As Maggie Tydings ’20, a CSGC board member emphasized, “Even if you can’t vote, there are so many other ways [for your voice to be heard]. [The CSGC] does letter writing [workshops on], how to call your representatives, and things that you can do when you’re under 18 to voice your opinion that would have an impact on something maybe even greater than [just] voting.”
These initiatives go beyond events held by the CSGC, as the Young Democrats and Young Republicans clubs have also hosted joint meetings, like their Change My Mind event. Alexa Brown ’19, a leader of the Young Democrats club explained that these joint events have been organized with a main goal of, [raising] political activism on campus and [promoting] political discussion and political discourse.
Though the intent of these events has been well-thought out and planned, some students feel that the impact has not been as substantial.
Jazmine Ramos ’20 said, “I feel like it’s good that Deerfield is trying to promote political advocacy, but I don’t think it’s super effective on campus because I haven’t seen a lot of students paying attention. I personally haven’t gotten anything out of it.”
However, political advocacy for many individuals in the Deerfield community remains extremely important to their lives.
Tydings shared, “I think that it’s really important to be civically engaged, and one way you can do that is through politics… it’s important that you know what issues you care about.”
Focusing more on the importance of the discourse political activism fosters, Alexa Brown ’19 stated, “A lot of views that people have are different, especially on this campus… I think that everyone has their own views and it’s important to share them.”
Yet there tends to be an imbalance of dialogue regarding political issues.
As Tydings said, “I think at Deerfield we tend to hear only one side of the story. Students and faculty from both sides of the aisle should be encouraged to voice their opinion to encourage diversity of thought and equality.”
Trying to grasp the reason behind this apparent disconnect between Deerfield students and politics, Hayes-Golding stated, “The fact is, [for the students] it’s hard to see how our representatives affect [their] lives.”
For many of the students, politics may not be a priority, especially compared to the busy, hectic schedules and demands that come with being a Deerfield student.
As Alexa Brown ’19 explained, “People are so consumed by their work. It’s important to stay aware and awake, but things get so overwhelming at Deerfield to the point where people don’t prioritize it.”
However, political activism can be much more simple, nuanced and personal than many people may think.
Sharing her own experiences as an advocate and elaborating on how being engaged does not demand as much time and dedication as many think, Hayes- Goulding stressed “Following politics doesn’t have to be your hobby. The issues I care about are small piece of what our representatives do on a daily basis. That’s where my interests lay and it’s very narrow.”
Political advocacy, civic engagement, and open discussion are the main goals of the recent initiatives organized by the CSGC and student-run clubs.
They have already put in a significant amount of effort in teaching students the importance of being aware and how to voice their opinions on issues that are important to them.
However, as Alexa Brown ’19 put it, “There’s more we can be doing as a community to make it easier to be civically engaged.”