Online Additions

Joining the Conversation

By Allison Good '09

In high school, conversations I had with adults about politics all too often ended with a dismissive “You just don’t know what you’re talking about” or a condescending “You’re too young to understand.” Whether the subject was Iraq or abortion, whether I was arguing with a teachers or my grandparents’ dinner guests, the grown-ups felt I wasn’t seasoned enough. How could someone my age have a legitimate opinion about anything serious? they seemed to ask — especially an opinion about those people and institutions that directly influence our daily lives: our leaders and our government? In their eyes, even a smart girl like me would have to wait to engage in the great debate.

Vassar, thankfully, is the exact opposite of my high school experience. Whether it’s local Poughkeepsie issues or this fall’s presidential contest, Vassar students know politics. They’re not afraid to show it — it’s impossible to go a whole day on campus without seeing political paraphernalia (it seems like everyone has a collection of buttons and bumper stickers that they proudly keep on display). And Vassar students are always ready to turn their awareness into advocacy and action, always inspiring each other to do more. At a moment’s notice students will drive to Washington, DC, to lobby the Senate, or to Pennsylvania to canvas for Obama, sometimes heading out on the road with no idea where they’ll be sleeping that night. After all, they’re not driving to Washington hoping to be comfortable. They’re hoping to change the world.

A vibrant political scene is like a pool on a hot summer day — it’s hard to watch so many people immersing themselves in it and not jump in. We all have our strengths, and mine happens to be writing. This past year I’ve been writing a weekly political column for The Misc called “The Voting Booth.” I knew my fellow Vassar students cared about politics before I started writing it, but the column generated more of a response than I ever would have expected. As I read the letters that came in every week in response to my writing, I became ever more awed by the passion and thoughtfulness of my peers. Vassar plays host to an ongoing political dialogue of focused, concerned, and active scholars, students and professors alike. The conversation happens all across the campus, at all times of the day, and everyone is welcome to chime in. I was overjoyed, writing “The Voting Booth,” to have finally found a community that welcomed my voice, my contribution, as a part of that larger conversation. I was no longer thought too young to understand.