Towson Time Machine: politics on campus then and now

By: Morgan Schmidt, Columnist

As this is an opinion column, I’m wondering: Does age truly matter when it comes to having a credible political opinion? I’ve been mistaken for a high school student multiple times at work. Besides never being able to fool a bouncer at Greene Turtle on a Saturday night, however, I find it bothersome how the idea of youth coincides with a lack of knowledge.

Last weekend, I was clearing a table reserved by two couples that had gone from poking at polite small talk to vivaciously arguing the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s campaign. One woman sat back in her chair, suddenly disconcerted at the volume of her voice. She turned to me and, with a soft chuckle, said,

“Would you like to contribute to this conversation?”

“She’s too young,” responded her friend without any hesitation.

She lifted her salt-rimmed martini glass to her lips and smiled at me sweetly (or condescendingly?) before taking a sip.

If the rule had been something other than, “the customer is always right,” I would have disagreed. Students are extremely involved in politics, especially at Towson University. The College Democrats of Towson and Towson University College Republicans are among the groups on campus that work to promote values and increase political literacy.

This past week, Towson’s 17th annual Tiger Pride Day in Annapolis had one of its biggest turnouts. The event serves as an opportunity for students to meet with lawmakers and present to them a legislative agenda concerning affairs such as the school’s budget and capital improvement projects.

Whilst one sly comment voiced by a woman who likes to drink martinis at a local country club doesn’t, in any way, represent the beliefs of the entire adult populace, it was enough to compel me to comb through the Special Collections at Cook Library to see how politically active students were in the past.

In March of 1971, Congress passed the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Youth movements nationwide cheered as the voting age officially changed from 21 years old to 18 years old.

This was a huge deal, especially for the young men being drafted for the Vietnam War who were of the mind that they had no say in their future.

The slogan, “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” had circulated for a while, and become commonplace among members of the Towson State College community who were constantly writing letters to their Senator’s offices. Articles, cartoons and advertisements alike in the currently yellowing, worn out Towerlight pages worked to rally people together to fight causes – those of which ranged from accepting homosexuality and prioritizing women’s rights; to formalizing draft opposition and continuing the fight to free American captives in North Vietnam.

Value appears to be placed on action, not words (nor age, for that matter).  Though Millennials have sadly earned the reputation of being lazy, their level of passion mirrors decades of political involvement on Towson’s campus – providing them with the foundation to be as influential as former generations.

 

 

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