Published on March 13th, 2017 | by Danika Thiele0
The rise of the post-grad activist
Amid a strained and divided political climate, students feel encouraged now more than ever to stand up for causes they believe in.
Several FSC graduates are combining action with their sentiments by joining activists in marches and protests nationwide. Former Student Government Association President Corey Koch ‘16 works as a pricing and legal project management analyst at Crowell & Moring, a a law firm based in Washington D.C., and regularly engages in social issues.
“I feel that living in such a great place comes with a great responsibility,” Koch said. “Every political movement must pass through this city at some point, and I post-feel obligated to do all I can since it is far easier for me than someone living in Lakeland.”
Since moving to Washington D.C., Koch has protested the recent travel bans and the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and he participates regularly in any rallies calling out sexism within America.
Though Koch often finds himself doubting his hopes for the future, he believes an inclusive and cooperative ideology will prevail within the country.
“I hope to be involved with politics in the future so that I can help people,” Koch said. “But that is not possible when the prevailing attitude is to forget about everyone else and look out for oneself. And only time will tell whether America has truly fallen to the idolatry of wealth, or if we value the supposed ‘American Dream’ and wish to preserve it and make it accessible to all.”
Koch’s concern echoes a growing sentiment felt by America’s millennial populations.
College students around the world have consistently been a powerful force for change, with American students forcing important changes on issues of war, poverty and environmental protection within the last century. The current administration’s rise seems to be adding to this activism.
According to a 2016 Higher Education Research Institute study, 10 percent of students expected to be involved in some form of protest during their college career.
A study by the faculty of UCLA suggested that participation by students in demonstrations had reached an all-time high. The 8.5 percent stating they have a “very good chance” of participating in student protests while in college represents the highest mark in the survey’s history and a 2.9 percent jump from the 2014 survey.
“It’s not about standing up for friends,” Koch said. “One of my best friends growing up is a woman, and she’d hardly be pleased if my activism was meant to represent her. She voted for Trump. It’s about standing up for what is right. And often times, I find, that means standing up for and standing with people with whom I have true differences – in opinion and in life.”
With many millennials turning to endless social media streams as news sources, political discrepancies and opinions are often formed based on interactions made and exposure to information via those platforms, according to “The Media Insight Project.”
A recent study by Pew Research Center placed about 60 percent of millennials as having received political news on Facebook in a given week, which is a much larger percentage than any competing news source.
Koch advises that the only way the country will come together is if we put our differences aside and accept each other for the other’s views, something that can begin on Facebook and Twitter.
“I think the present administration likely impacts the FSC campus the same as it does the rest of the country,” Koch said. “When we focus so much on areas where we disagree, relationships are strained. We need to focus on what we can do to invoke change when we can. I encourage all students at FSC to become involved in at least one issue that is important to them within their four years in college and then indefinitely.”
READ: Tips on formulating your political beliefs
Photo courtesy of Corey Koch.