7 Tips for Getting Political at School

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As the presidential debates are just around the corner and the big November election draw nearer, politics seems to be on just about everyone’s brains these days.

Even if you’re not old enough to vote, you can still get involved in the world of politics and have your voice heard on the issues being debated, like healthcare, the war in Afghanistan, and the economy. Sharing your political POV or joining or starting a political club in your high school are great ways to get in on the conversation.

Here are some tips to get your started:

ONE: Decide if you want to make your political activities at school official or not. If you simply want to express your political opinions, you can do things like: wear t-shirts that promote a candidate or ideology (check your school’s dress code if you think your shirt might be crossing the line), write opinion pieces for your school paper (see our article on how to write an Op Ed for more on this), or hand out flyers at school events. To get more organized, talk to school officials about creating a formal school club and follow the procedures step-by-step. Or…if your school already has a political club that feels like a fit, join it!

TWO: Determine what the goal of the club is: Do you want to spread awareness about broad political issues or ideologies? Actually rally around a specific cause? Gather as many members as possible? Discuss and debate political issues among your peers? Getting clear on your club or organization’s mission will guide you in everything you do.

THREE: If your goal is a large membership, get creative about promoting your club. Come up with a great name, slogan, and logo, and design t-shirts and posters with your club’s info on them. You can also raise your visibility by participating in school and community events as a group—like parades, road races, carnivals, and fairs, and/or putting ads in the school paper or school play books.

FOUR: When communicating your club’s key messages or ideologies to other students, use language and concepts that your peers can directly relate to. Stay away from political jargon and make the dialogue accessible, and relatable, to the other kids in your school.

FIVE: Decide how you’ll approach “hot button” or controversial issues that people often feel passionate about, such as gay marriage, abortion, and others, and get clear on how much you want to stir things up. Figure out what the guidelines are at your school regarding controversial issues, demonstrations, and more before taking action that could land you in hot water.

SIX: Take the time to create a set of rules and regulations for your club, figuring out the answer to questions like: Will there be club officers? How regularly will you meet? How will the time in your meetings be spent (debating, bringing in guest speakers from your community, planning, etc.)? How will decisions be made? The stronger your club’s infrastructure, the more ready you’ll be to expand, adapt, and tackle new political issues.

SEVEN: If you’re just getting started with your club, consider beginning with an online presence using a social media site like Tumblr or Facebook. This way you can link to other organizations, post videos relevant to your mission, amass followers without much effort, and let the viral nature of the web work for you.

Are you political at school? What tips do you have to share with other girls looking to do the same?

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