Students from the Institute of Politics travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with Utah senators

The Institute of Politics poses for a picture with Senator Mike Lee and Mitt Romney. Photo courtesy of the Institute of Politics Instagram

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Stepping out of southern Utah, the Institute of Politics journeyed to Washington D.C. from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 to discuss with Utah senators the problems college students face today.

Students met with Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee at their offices in Washington. They were able to introduce themselves and the organization, as well as discuss their accomplishments this semester.

Hannah Snyder, a sophomore emergency medical services major from St. George, said, “When we met with the senators, they were happy to hear from us and hear what was important to the university students in their state.”

Before traveling, the Institute of Politics conducted a survey for students to ask senators questions. The poll asked students what issues they felt strongest about and what they would want the Utah senators to know. Some of the issues students responded with in the poll included:

  • Climate crisis
  • Inflation
  • Foreign relations
  • Gun control
  • Utah mental health crisis
  • Cost of housing in Utah

The top results from the poll were housing costs and inflation. The students expressed those concerns to the senators hoping to help senators understand why these topics are important to college students and how they will shape the future.

Serena Cervantes, a senior criminal justice major from Chino Hills, California, said, “They [senators] are the ones making policies and laws that will end up affecting you and your everyday life.”

A poll conducted by Forbes in 2022 found that 66% of college students believe voting matters in our democracy. But how many stay informed with government leaders? If it is known that voting is important, how can students start getting involved?

The Institute of Politics understands the importance of the influence that the younger generation has on voting. Staying informed about local and national politics holds significance for the younger generations. One place where students who aren’t informed about politics can start becoming more educated is through social media.

Social media is a place for students to start navigating the world of politics. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram have opened up an easier way for the younger generation to stay informed.

Cervantes said, “You can find your state senators there and follow them to stay updated about what they are doing like you would a celebrity.”

If you wish to speak with a senator, you can write them a letter, visit their websites or direct message them on social media. Most U.S. senators are active on social media and express opinions and concerns on platforms like Instagram and X.

Snyder said: “Being involved and educated in politics is something that many students find intimidating, and it’s easy to see why. There is a wide variety of views out there and lots of passionate voices.”

Students looking to grow more confident in their knowledge of politics can attend events held by the Institute of Politics. One event is the Pizza and Politics event held once a month. At these events, students are invited to learn more about politics in a welcoming environment.

Cervantes said: “Decisions made in politics are something that affects your and your family’s everyday lives. Even if you feel like there is no point in staying informed about politics, no matter the level, it is truly so important for you to stay informed.”