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Oct 30 2017
by Anne Marie Yurik

Why It's Important to Know About Your State Legislature in College

By Anne Marie Yurik - Oct 30 2017
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Many think that the most important election is the Presidential election. While that may be the one that garners most attention from many age groups, there are many other elections that happen throughout the course of the year. For college students that could be floor council or for working adults it could be a new Vice President or President of a company. State legislature is also something that gets voted on, as I'm sure you all know, but it's definitely overlooked and underestimated.

Many assume that the federal government has more control over your life than the state, and while executive orders and constitutional rights are an overarching, national form of regulation, states have the availability to over turn some of those declarations. Take freedom of speech for example. While it is our constitutional, indelible right, student media in certain states can be censored. These states say that when students enter the school house gates, they do not have freedom of the press, and can have their work censored by the administration. States such as New Mexico, Wyoming, South Dakota, Ohio, North Carolina and many more offer no protection against censorship for both high school and college students. 

One organization fighting to lower the amount of states that permit censorship in school house gates is the New Voices legislation. They work with student journalists to fight for their first amendment rights. Many states granted students the right to freedom of the press, something that is not granted on the national level. This capability shows just how important state legislation is. Your state can censor you based on national regulation, but it can also overturn said regulation. 

In short, yes, the federal government is powerful, but state government is not just a puppet of national policy. Your state wide representatives are very important. If freedom of speech doesn't seem to hook you into the importance of state government, then I don't know what will. State governments are powerful, and it is just as important to know what is going on in your state as it is to know what's going on in the oval office.

Maybe your state is one that does not protect your freedom of speech. Maybe they are billions of dollars in debt and threatening to hike tuition (thanks, Pennsylvania). Don't leave it at maybe. Know what's going on in your state. It affects you, and you should know your rights. You should also know if your wallet is going to be thinning out. But that's not it, once you know, you can make a change. You can work with New Voices to defend your first amendment rights, you can call the Pennsylvania government and tell them not to defund public institutions. Know what's happening and then do something.

It's your right, and it's important.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Anne Marie Yurik - University of Pittsburgh

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