At Hope, the ballot was just the beginning


DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS COME TOGETHER — Hope College students and friends come to stand united for justice. (Kelly Ocock)

Students across the nation became involved during the 2016 elections. They campaigned, attended rallies and are now continuing to make their voices heard after the results. This Nov., 126 million votes (and counting) were cast in the 2016 election. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an estimated 23.7 million young voters participated in the 2016 presidential election. That is around 50 percent of citizens aged 18-29 in the United States, and includes college students and first time voters. When looking at exit polls, it becomes clear that younger citizens (for the most part) voted differently than ages 30 and above. This age group has strong opinions and has taken a great interest in politics.

Hope College is no different. Students and friends of the Hope Community were invited to stand together in the Pine Grove last Friday in a sign of solidarity organized by the Student Activities Committee and Hope United for Justice. The email was sent by the Dean of Students, Richard Frost, and encouraged those attending “to share their own diversity tomorrow by wearing clothing and/or attire that reflects and honors who they are.” Black shirts were also encouraged as a sign of unity.

On Saturday, a peaceful protest was organized in Holland at Centennial Park. Rainbow flags were carried by some who gathered at the park. Signs showed phrases of compassion such as “One world, one people” and “Love Thy Neighbor.” Cars honked their horns as they drove past to show solidarity.

There are so many ways in which students can get involved after this election. Peaceful protests are just one way to make voices heard. Getting involved with local government is another great way to learn about the process and start making changes. Contact local representatives and hold elected officials accountable for their words and actions. Go to house.gov for information on congressional districts and search for representatives. Public email addresses can be found on the representatives’ website. It was a sight to see students coming from multiple different backgrounds and supporting one another. These may sound like small actions to take but they can make a big impact.

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