5,780 Agents of Change!

James Upton writes about #RockTheRegister, and the importance of using your vote once you’ve registered for it.

5,780 – that’s the number of UCC Students who have registered to vote between November 2014 and October 2015. I spent today buzzing in and out of lectures telling students why it’s important to register to vote. I’ve spent copious amounts of hours since last November sifting through voter registration forms allocating them by county, and posted a copious amount of envelopes off to local councils to trigger what is without a shadow of a doubt, a generational shift in the youth of this country. Yet, there is still one thing that drives me absolutely crazy – that is the sheer and utter ignorance that some people have when it comes to the importance of voting.

When we started voter registration today I was both surprised and shocked at the number of students who said “it didn’t matter”. And by no means do I want to enforce some idealistic utopian dream of voter registration on you, but I think it’s important that we highlight what the main issue here is; the people who don’t register to vote, who shrug their shoulders and chuckle it off, as part of the little social click their in are ones who infuriate me the most. Saying that you don’t care about the future of education, social protection, job opportunities or the ideological political beliefs that govern your country; and sure ideological political beliefs sounds like a dense tv rhetoric heard on late night political debate shows, but that rhetoric is the difference in college being four times more expensive, or the grant being cut in half and lets not be negative entirely. It’s also the potential of making college less expensive and increasing the grant. God forbid you filling in a sheet for thirty seconds could make someone else’s college life a little easier, stop student poverty and ensure we educate people.

Each day we shrug our shoulders at our civil duty to make a joke for the people we hang around with is the day we abandon our fellow students. I don’t want to give out about students shrugging off their right to vote, but don’t whine when something happens to your grant, to the cost of education and the quality of education all because you didn’t take thirty seconds to fill in a piece of paper. That piece of paper could make sure that everyone who comes after and is around you now has access to an education system, which actively encourages independent thinking.
You may think you’re a small pawn in a very large system, but in fact your a big cog in a very small system and you deciding not to fill in that form does one thing; it ensures that the system gets even harder for people to make a change.

28,000 students registered last year to give fundamental rights to LGBT* people through a referendum – that’s what they did! What are you going to do now? What change will you make? Are you going to be one of the cogs that fills in a form, casts a vote and sends a clear message to political parties that you think cutting grants, increasing fees and inhibiting the development of an educated generation is right – All because you shrugged your shoulders as a joke for the lads? Or will you take thirty seconds out of your day to make one change to ensure equity in education.

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