We’ve all heard the myths that young people don’t care about politics.
When post-secondary students come to the table to engage in political discourse and bring forward the concerns of our peers, we are often met with dismissive attitudes, and the assertion that if we don’t show up to the polls, we don’t get to criticize the way that things are.
These myths ignore some crucial evidence about students and our political engagement.
Studies show that students are 15 per cent more likely to vote than non-students in our respective age groups.
In B.C., the voter turnout amongst people aged 18-24 increased by 17.1 per cent since 2009 according to Elections BC.
The under-40 population now makes up the largest voting demographic, and our needs and concerns need to be fully considered by each party and every candidate this election.
Students do care, and we do show up to vote.
We are engaged in our communities, and are participating in an enormous undertaking by pursuing an education for the betterment of ourselves and our province.
Young people were the hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of job loss, meanwhile, many students were unable to get the financial assistance they needed through this economic downturn.
Students are continuing to pursue their education in hopes of improving their situation and positively contribute to our communities, despite the fact that 75 per cent of students have suffered significant financial hardship and will be impacted well beyond 2020.
We need to see our party leaders putting forward policies that not only consider the interests of students and how we have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic, but that properly recognize the diversity within the student experience.
Students with dependents are navigating childcare and schooling during the pandemic, while trying to complete their studies.
Students living in remote areas that have poorer wifi connection are struggling to keep up with the demands on online learning. Student mental health was already declining, and is in serious jeopardy due to these exacerbating circumstances.
With Oct. 24 upon us, we are calling on all students and young people to make their voices heard.
But mobilizing student voters is only half of our focus.
We call upon every candidate and each party leader to commit towards putting forward initiatives to support students as we move forward through the pandemic.
The future is uncertain, but students are working hard to find solutions and support our recovery efforts.
Students are not just the leaders of tomorrow, we are already working for a brighter future for our province.
Grace Dupasquier, North Vancouver
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