I like my coffee strong—rattle your bones and jump-start your heart strong. The steady drip of the coffee hitting the pot in the morning is my heartbeat as I stand by the coffee-maker, waiting for the moment when I know enough has filtered for a cup. I can only take so many drips.
The way national issues affect us is like the drip of a coffeemaker. At first, we hear the drips, but we know even if we wanted a cup of coffee, it would lack the substance we need. A single tweet from Donald Trump, who according to Mike McIntire and Nicholas Confessore with the New York Times has tweeted over 11,000 times, is hardly worth speaking out against. As the stories, or drips, add up, they begin to filter into our consciousness. Eventually, we grab a cup and speak up. The developments under the Trump administration would be akin to double-shot espresso spurting from a roadside fire hydrant.
Of course, there is any number of national issues that affect us at a local level like climate change, the opioid crisis and criminal justice system reform. I am writing in response to some feedback to a pair of "face-off" Reflector stories that engaged the on-going story of the Trump impeachment. These articles, in which the writers took opposing sides of the debate, received a tremendous amount of comments on social media by Reflector standards. Many commenters blasted the paper for publishing an article that was either too liberal or too conservative, not realizing the paper had published two articles.
However, some commenters suggested students should not voice their opinion on national issues, with one comment which said the Reflector should "stick to campus news." Firstly, read our newspaper—it is almost entirely focused on Mississippi State University and the Starkville community. Secondly, national issues affect students, and in this way, they become "campus news." For example, the increasingly aggressive rhetoric and policy surrounding immigration has had a real impact on my life.
I became a United States citizen a little over a year ago out of fear of deportation. My family and I felt safe as permanent residents before the Trump administration. We began to hear stories from across the country of permanent residents being detained, such as the June 10 raids by ICE when, according to Brittny Mejia with the LA Times, 15 lawful permanent residents were detained. The process for becoming a citizen is time-consuming and costly, and if not for a recent policy change, my family and I would have been required to surrender our other nationalities. The recent hostility towards immigrants has affected other people on campus as well. Immigrants on student visas may fret over the status of their residency after graduation, and the university may struggle to hire from other countries.
To suggest students are not qualified to speak up on national issues or, as one commenter said, that students do not have enough "historical knowledge of the US government" to have an opinion, is a blatant rejection of our participation in a democracy.
Despite what social media boomers may believe about us, we, too, are active members of the US democratic process with opinions and agency. We, too, pay taxes, vote in elections and produce newspapers. We, too, have the right to free speech, and we, too, have a duty to speak up for national issues which frequently trouble us as students.
Back to the coffee analogy—if students do not address national issues, we are essentially allowing the coffee pot to overflow and have coffee spill throughout our dorm rooms and shared apartments. As active consumers of social media, we are perhaps more connected to national issues than any other generation. Despite my best intentions, I receive much of my news from social media. Our president uses Twitter to make announcements ranging from international diplomacy to MAGA rap competitions. We have seen local elections, such as the 2018 congressional elections and the recent gubernatorial elections, become referendums on national politics. President Trump recently held a rally an hour away just days before the Mississippi elections for state office. We are the generation who will see the effects of climate change in our lifetime and have held school walk-outs to send messages for change to our government.
Perhaps, the sentiment of comments to "stick to campus news" is one based in fear. As reported by Ronald Brownstein with CNN, millennials are set to pass baby boomers as the largest voting bloc. OK, Boomer.