For months, everywhere we go, advertisements, mailers, e-mails and YouTube videos have been all urging us to do the same thing: become engaged.
Specifically, the outreach has focused on getting us into the American political process, on behalf of an issue or candidate. The message has been clear: Vote — for something — pretty please.
Voting poses a question each one of us has to answer for ourselves, even through our decision to vote or avoid the polls on Nov. 4. Some people believe the strongest way to voice their opinion is by not showing up at all on Election Day; others believe you don’t have a right to complain or applaud in the coming years unless you vote.
Regardless of the decision one makes, voting is one of the most basic ways we can choose to get involved in our community – incredibly important, but with fairly low impact on the participant.
Wednesday, the political ads will cease, and once again we will be able to ignore the call of engagement if we choose to do so. Yet, the forthcoming silence begs the question: Do we choose to get involved only because we are asked to, or do we get involved because we want and need to?
As the dust settles after the election, there will still be much that still needs to be done, regardless of the outcomes at the polls. People will still be cold, hungry and homeless – children will still be without mentors and guides. It is this work that is at the core of what community engagement means, and is at the core on which this nation is built. The impact one volunteer can have at one local agency is just as powerful – some would say more – than any one vote is in an election.
In one of our favorite quotes in the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office, Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Her quote is a truth we witness everyday throughout the CSU and Northern Colorado communities. Small groups make large impacts on their neighbors, and embodying the true sense of community engagement.
From CSU students taking their Thursday and Sunday afternoons to swim with individuals with special needs, to others giving their Saturdays to members in the Fort Collins community who need a helping hand, it is obvious that the CSU community is full of small groups making big differences through service.
As we head toward the end of the semester and the holiday season starts coming at us at Mach 1, we urge you to take a moment to decide if submitting your ballot is enough — or if you want to have an even more personal effect on the communities in which you live?
If your answer to that question is yes, please stop into the SLiCE office in the Lory Student Center. Although we may have just finished one of our largest volunteer projects of the year, Cans Around the Oval, we still have plenty of ways to get you involved – here on campus, or in Fort Collins and Larimer County.
From volunteering with community partners like the Boys and Girls Club, to SLiCE programs like CSU Serves, we have a plethora of ways to get you involved beyond the ballot box.
Now the choice is yours – stop after raising your hand on Nov. 4, or continue to lend a hand the rest of the year?
Jake Blumberg is a program coordinator with the SLiCE office and a CSU alumnus. The SLiCE office writes a column that appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.