Photo by Marcus Dieterle/ The Towerlight
Towson University offers a variety of residential learning communities, which are meant to engage students and are structured around specific themes and interests. With 11 different communities, options for students include academia-based societies like the Honors Community, as well as others such as Alcohol Free and Career Exploration communities.
Sophomore and psychology major Sophie Bertrand spoke with The Towerlight about her experience as part of the Political Engagement Residential Learning Community located in Tower B.
Tell me a little bit about the Political Engagement Community. What kinds of things do you guys do? What does it mean to be in the community?
Well, the community itself is kind of responsible for being present on campus, being engaged in any of the political events we go on. We have New York Times talks. We volunteer in Baltimore sometimes. It’s not only about being politically engaged but also civically engaged and taking responsibility for what goes around on campus, so we attend College Democrats and College Republicans events, go to meetings and pass out information and help people register to vote.
Why did you get involved? Why did you want to be part of the community?
To be honest, when I saw the community name while I was registering for housing I was like “Oh, that’d be cool.” I had no clue what it was going to be about and honestly, I can say that I’m really glad that I did it.
Why are you glad that you joined the community?
It’s been a really rewarding experience. There’s a sense of community on this floor like you won’t find on another floor here. The common room is empty right now but at 8 or 9 p.m. everyone will be in here listening to music, doing homework, telling jokes and just hanging out with each other. And there are a lot of opportunities you do find out because of all the connections you make on the floor, and I feel like a lot of people have made lasting connections on this floor.
Would you recommend this community to other people? Why?
Absolutely, I feel like it’s just a really fun experience and it’s a great way to get involved on campus. No matter what your major is, no matter what you’re doing, you can always just relate it to political engagement, civic engagement, stuff like that.
What do politics mean to you? What are their impact on your life?
I didn’t really understand the impact of politics until the 2016 elections. Because I was always looking at politics and thinking “ok that’s cool, that’s cool, that’s cool,” but after the 2016 election I was paying more attention and I realized what was going on. And I feel like there are a lot of issues discussed that affected me and people around me, like DACA, health care, stuff like that. I realized that politics kind of directly affects people and I looked around and was just kind of like “wow.” People aren’t really like, following politics. People just kind of check the news on their phone every once in a while, and they don’t really realize that it affects everyone’s day-to-day life and what goes on.
Why do you think political engagement is so important?
I think that people should just be involved in the government around them, like local government, federal government, everything that happens. People say “oh, I have one vote. What does that matter?” That’s not all you have to do to get involved. You can write a letter to your senator. You can go and visit. You can go to Tiger Pride Day like we’re doing, and you can get in touch with people in offices and make them do things. You can sign petitions, you can call them, and especially voting. Your say matters. It affects everyone.
– Compiled by Mary-Ellen Davis