City looks to student involvement in upcoming elections

By Ali Combs

The April 9 local election is an opportunity for students to get involved with the DeKalb community.

Same-day voting will be offered at the Holmes Student Center in order to encourage students to vote for local officials. In addition to voting, there are several things students can do to be involved with the local community.

Mayor Kris Povlsen said student involvement in local politics is good for students and good for the community.

“I think it’s mutually beneficial when students provide input and get involved,” Povlsen said. “Students are going to be graduating soon and need to understand the importance of community.”

DaLisa Barnes, senior political science major, agrees that involvement in local politics is positive for students.

“I feel like students should be involved in local, city or county elections because what happens at that level affects us being students,” Barnes said. “We are residents of the county, regardless of if we’re students or not…. I think being a student in higher education prepares us for the ‘real’ world, and voting is something responsible citizens take part in.”

Schools offering classes that teach about the political process are headed in the right direction, said fourth ward alderman Brendon Gallagher. A class Gallagher took in undergraduate studies pushed him to be involved, and it worked.

“I’ll never forget back in 1988 I took a political process and participation class, and my teacher was really cool about getting involved,” Gallagher said. “They should make that class required for all students. It gets kids thinking about how if they see something that’s wrong, they should get in there and fix it, voice their concerns.”

Povlsen said the best way for students to get involved with the community is to show an interest to local officials.

“Give a call to the mayor or city manager,” Povlsen said. “When students have done that in the past, we’ve assigned them to commissions of interest. When people show interest, they usually have commitment. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s certainly a rewarding experience.”

Barnes said students should do what they can to be involved before they are affected by policy they don’t agree with.

“Don’t be afraid to get involved,” Barnes said. “When they have public notices about town hall meetings and open forums, don’t be afraid to go, because so many times we get the back end of something that’s been passed. If you make your voice known, that’s how you can be heard.”

Gallagher said requirements should be put in place to encourage student involvement in their local communities.

“If you want people to be more involved, make them take a class; make it a requirement to be registered to vote when you turn 18 or get a new driver’s license,” Gallager said.