If you're a college student living in the age of Trump, first off: oof. This was probably the first election you voted in, and it has been an ugly one. The elections in 2008 and 2012 are probably the ones you have the most vivid memories of, and while they were remarkable in their own way, they were in no way as politically-charged as the country is right now, following the start of Donald Trump's presidency. But if you're a college student looking for ways to resist Trump, you are far from powerless to help.
It may seem like all the actionable things people are doing to help — all the protests, the phone banking parties, the tweets from the ground keeping everyone else informed — are happening in major cities. And yes, major cities will always be a focal point for protest, but that doesn't mean that things going on in small college towns aren't making a huge difference. You are America's youngest voters, the beginning of a new generation that will set the tone for the voters who follow, a generation so large that it will eventually outnumber — and overpower — every other generation above you. In times like these, that is not a responsibility to carry lightly.
If you're feeling at a loss for how to contribute, you're far from alone. So if the starting point seems vague and overwhelming, here are a few steps you can take to resist Trump's presidency in college, no matter how far you feel removed from the action.
Educate Yourself — And Others
Many of you don't fall into this category, so if not, disregard this next statement: but I think it's safe to say some of the hesitation from college students is that many of them don't quite have all of the information or understanding of what's happening much further beyond "it's bad," and because of that, are anxious about getting involved in anything that might require them to engage in conversation about it. A lot of this is a symptom of a public school education system that doesn't prepare its high schoolers to stay informed politically, or perhaps just from plain old disinterest up until now. Luckily, this is more than solvable — here are some ways to get and stay informed.
- Subscribe to newsletters. TheSkimm does a great job of offering compact, well-explained (and sassy AF) stories about the news that get delivered to your inbox every morning. Track Trump is sending daily updates of what is happening with his presidency. Mashable also made a list of people to follow on Twitter during Trump's America to stay informed.
- Read information from both sides of the argument. As uncomfortable as it may make you feel, read op-eds you don't agree with, tweets that make you angry. If you are going to argue against the other side at one point, you'll need to know where they're coming from.
- Listen to political podcasts on your way to class. Here's a list to get you started.
- Go to class. I know this is an obvious one, but I'll add it for emphasis — aside from it being the education you're paying for, it's where most of the discussion is going to happen, and it's how you end up passing people out on the quad who are also trying to get involved in protests or volunteer work.
- Ask questions. You're going to find yourself in conversations with peers, with professors, with people on Twitter where you feel completely out of your depth. Instead of floundering, be honest when you need information. Ask them to explain the issue to you. Then go home and do some research on your own.
And then — most imperatively — encourage your classmates and friends to stay informed, too. Refer them to resources, or talk to them one on one.
Find Like-Minded Fellow Students
Go to your university's website and look for organizations devoted to social justice, activism, or any other kind of politically-related activities, and go to a meeting if it seems like a good fit. Take fliers from the people aggressively handing them out in the quad, and actually read them. If you can't find a group of people on campus, then consider being the one to lead it yourself.
Stay Informed About Protests In Your Area
Your school might not be hosting protests — and if they aren't, you should definitely consider gathering up a group of friends and organizing one yourself — but odds are, there will be one within reasonable distance of your college. Subscribe to newsletters like RESISTABLE to stay informed about protests in your area, which you can either carpool to with other students or take a bus to join in. And don't let anyone try to tell you that protests don't work; they absolutely make an impact, and they're going to be a crucial element of resisting this presidency.
Phone Bank On The Way To Class
Once you're informed enough of the issues that you feel comfortable talking about them, call your representatives. If you're in a small college town, especially in an area where the representatives might not agree with your opinions, your voice is more necessary than ever. The website 5 Calls is an excellent resource for this — plug in your zip code, and it will give you the number to call, and a script for what to say to them, based on the issue you are calling about.
And feel free to do it every day! Carve out a few minutes between your classes, during steady breaks, while you wait in line at the dining hall. Other people will take notice and it will inspire them to follow suit. If you're feeling particularly social, host a phone banking party at your dorm or apartment and order pizza with the whole crew.
Hold Fundraisers For Organizations That Need Help
If you're feeling non-confrontational and would prefer quiet methods of helping, organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and the HRC (and so, so many more) need more help staying funded to resist Trump's agenda now than ever before. Host a bake sale, a car wash, a race on your campus. Use the proceeds to put money in places that are working the hardest for human rights in the age of Trump. And if you can't give your money, give your time. Research and see if there are chapters of these organizations or events nearby you can offer your help with. Even if it's only a few dollars or a few hours of your time, every little bit you give will add up to help make a massive difference.