Burke: You don’t have to be a ‘political person’ to understand politics

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Collegian | Trin Bonner

Callum Burke, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. 

Colorado State University embraces a lot of free speech opportunities, especially right on campus.

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On any given afternoon, with Colorado weather permitting, it is not uncommon to come across a crowd of people discussing a political issue, such as religion or even something a little more mundane like minimum wage prices, that don’t necessarily always force your hand to get involved. Other times, the topic is about a more serious issue within politics that may grab your attention and even incline you to chime in with your thoughts. 

Regardless of the context within politics, the practice of communicating your thoughts and beliefs is prevalent at CSU for every student. Not only is it important for students to communicate their beliefs and partake in the art of debate, it is just as important to understand baseline politics and develop an individualized opinion on important topics. 

Believe me, politics, especially in the United States, can seem like an old Victorian hallway with countless twists and turns. 

Now, although complex and frankly intimidating, a regular Joe does not need to know every detail of the Constitution or who the 22nd president of the United States was to be able to comprehend a debate and get involved. With that said, there are a few crucial things every college student should know.  

For starters, know your rights. 

There are a plethora of rights college civilians hold. From religious rights to protestors’ rights to voting rights — admittedly, it’s a lot to take in. For a college student specifically, having a solid grasp of your individual student rights on a college campus is a good place to start. Similarly, when stopped by the police, knowing what to do could save your ass.

“Overall, having a concrete understanding of your nation’s politics is direly important. Not to mention, it is your civil duty to have a grasp on your rights and possess some comprehension of politics in the United States for your knowledge and safety.”

A student’s rights on a college campus are mostly held to the same standards as a regular civilian on the street, meaning the First Amendment is protected. A student possesses the right to freely speak and express their views on a college campus, hand out petitions and flyers to students and faculty and wear clothes that allow for self-expression, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. All these aspects of politics are ones students portray at CSU on a daily basis. 

As for when you’re stopped by the police? If you happen to get stopped by police, you do have certain rights to protect yourself. First, if you’re detained you have the right to remain completely silent after clearly invoking the right and should practice the hell out of that. You do not have to answer any questions from the officer whatsoever, including where you were born and even where you’re headed without just cause.

Additionally, you do not have to consent to a search of your person or belongings, such as your car, if there’s no probable cause. With that said, police may pat you down if they suspect a weapon and still maintain the right to pursue a car search if they deem it necessary, but verbally objecting to the search could help preserve your rights in later legal proceedings, according to the American Civil Liberties Union

Secondly, know how to vote.

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The process of voting can seem overwhelming. From registering to finding a polling stand to collecting all necessary information needed, it can seem like a never-ending rabbit hole. 

The voting process has never been easier in this country, and the physical act of voting is the perfect way for college students to amplify their political voices and practice their rights as citizens. Voting should be an obligation for any politically involved American.  

Overall, having a concrete understanding of your nation’s politics is direly important. Not to mention, it is your civil duty to have a grasp on your rights and possess some comprehension of politics in the United States for your knowledge and safety. 

Reach Callum Burke at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @burkec0621.