By The Gatepost Editorial Board
More people turned out for the election in Massachusetts this year than was predicted, with approximately 2.5 million ballots counted as of Nov. 9, according to MassLive.
This is approximately 51% of Massachusetts’ registered voters, according to the site.
It is disheartening that nearly half of registered voters did not participate in our democracy, not to mention those who didn’t bother registering in the first place.
While voting is certainly a necessary act, your civic duty is not limited to the collection of another “I voted” sticker.
Civic engagement is about more than just voting. It’s about making changes that will inevitably contribute to developing a common good.
And if the recent election has done anything, it has shown us how divided our country is.
Many of the races were only won by slim margins, proving that we need to be doing more - even when it is not an election year.
Though voting is one of the most impactful ways to contribute to the common good, the actions you can take prior to elections are just as important in making the changes this country needs.
As college students, there are multiple ways we get involved when it comes to civic engagement.
The first step is becoming properly informed on political figures, issues, and policies.
Social media has never been a reliable source for information, especially with Twitter now allowing users to purchase the blue check mark verification.
However, according to Statista, a study conducted in February of this year showed 45% of 18- to 34-year-olds receive their news on a daily basis from social media.
As students at Framingham State, we receive a free subscription to The New York Times - take advantage of this. Find the link to register under the database section of the library’s website.
The Associated Press is free online, and other news outlets like The Washington Post often have deals for subscriptions, making them available at a lower price such as $1 every four weeks.
For those concerned with the reliability of media and bias, take a look at mediabiasfactcheck.com, a website that shares whether news platforms have any history of bias or reporting of false information.
Local journalism, such as The MetroWest Daily News or The Boston Globe, is also a reliable way to become informed on what’s happening not only in the world, but also in your town or city.
The second step is to find opportunities to become involved with local government, including by volunteering time and attending meetings such as those held by the town hall, city council, and school boards.
When well informed on local issues, there are opportunities to contact state legislators and make them aware of what matters most to their constituents.
Even though elections and opportunities to vote on questions are not always happening, legislators continue to work on writing and passing bills that affect us.
As students, we can advocate for policy changes and bring awareness to specific issues. This can be done in a variety of ways, including writing blog posts, sharing on social media, and publishing your opinion in The Gatepost as well as your own local newspaper in the form of an op/ed.
Becoming civically engaged in our communities is vital to making positive change, but we need to have the initiative to do so.
Staying informed, participating in local politics, and amplifying our voices are just a few ways we as students can contribute to our communities.
There are so many issues, problems, and challenges communities face on a day-to-day basis - help us find the solutions and implement them.
Be a part of the change.