Opinion: Student Councils Can Be About A Lot More Than Prom

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California State Capitol Building, Sacramento, California. By Christopher Padalinski [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Arvin Hariri is the governmental affairs policy director of the California Association of Student Councils.

Right about now your school’s student government is probably busy organizing its latest and greatest dance.

The planning committee has begun reserving the venue, allocating decorations, and even getting a local band involved. It’s important work, but for most student governments, this is also it. Everything. This is where student voices come to die, always to remain lost in translation.

If that’s what passes for civic engagement, is it any wonder that only 8 percent of eligible Californians aged 18 to 24 turned out to the polls in the 2014 midterms?

For the past 71 years, the California Association of Student Councils (CASC) has been a real solution to the youth voter apathy deeply embedded into our society.

Picture a place where students work tirelessly to develop real policy proposals. Imagine that instead of talking to a brick wall, students actually get feedback from the Senate/Assembly Joint Committee on Education, and create real, tangible bills. Bills that are signed into law by the governor, who credits the students for making a difference.

That place is real, and it is the Student Advisory Board on Legislation in Education: run entirely by the students of CASC.

While school administrators sit behind closed doors, making life-altering decisions for students with little student input, that should not deter us. If anything, it should enrage us and envigorate us into amplifying our voices.

It’s time we decide whether student government is a dance-planning committee, or a legitimate civic body. The California Association of Student Councils made its decision over 71 years ago, so when will you make yours?

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