Valuing our verbal democracy

Lydia Grijalva

Petition gatherers are a valued piece of campus life. They serve as the bridge between busy students and the laws that are being created while students are studying.

When students get busy with class, it becomes easy for political issues to slip to the back burner.

Petitioners serve to keep that from happening. A study at Yale confirmed that canvassing, or person to person voter outreach, was more effective than mailing letters or phone calls when it comes to increasing voter turnout. According to Campus Vote Project, in 2010, less than 13 percent of students reported that they weren’t voting due to lack of interest. This shows that students are not apathetic and are generally only missing elections because they are missing information.

Right now, there are people on campus talking about the minimum wage. Many students at City College are working minimum wage jobs nd can be impacted by this proposition.

Signing a petition does not constitute a vote; but it opens up the topic for discussion.

Petitioners give registered voters the information needed to go home and do the research. Whether one agrees with the bill or not, they have learned that people somewhere are fighting for it to be passed.

This is not to say that every petitioner does the ground work in a way that is beneficial. Some petitioners have their facts wrong and manipulate the information to make you sign the petition.

This is also why it’s even more important to support petitioners who are informed and honest.

When going to a restaurant, a server that spits on food and calls customers fat doesn’t get any tips and scares customers away from coming back. If a server does their job well, they get a tip and likely customers return. This creates a standard for good service, and this same process can be applied to petitioners.

It is up to each student to know which questions they need to ask to be accurately informed. It’s generally beneficial to ask the name of the bill and what businesses and political parties are working to get it passed.

Petitioners have difficult jobs, considering the fact that they are there to talk about politics with people they don’t know, which can get messy very quickly. It is therefore important for students and staff to not be carried away by emotions and to critically gather the information while it is there and available to us through a petitioner.

Remember that these folks are harassed multiple times a day and that can sometimes interfere with the excellent customer service that society trains us to expect. In the same way that someone has to flip the burgers and stock the groceries, someone has to gather signatures to keep our democratic society going.

The more students step up as self-educated voters, donors and volunteers, the smoother this process will be. Though almost everyone can generally agree that our political system is flawed, we can’t take for granted what a privilege it is to be part of the conversation.