Dr. David Matthews explained that politics began when a village faced a problem of a flood and the public decided “to move the damn village”. Today, politics has been construed as a system outside of the public’s hand: it is elite, exclusive, ineffective, untrustworthy, divisive and to be avoided in public discussion at the dinner table. RECLAIMING the original understanding of politics as a community-owned engagement with public issues does begin with dialogue. I reflect on my campus life and undeniably find passion, engagement and collaboration. However, it is limited to segmented, alienated, homogenous groups feeling unrepresented and in competition with other communities on campus. What would it look like for these dialogues to happen across diverse communities on campus, nation, and international issues? Students often feel disheartened by ‘just talk’ but without collaborative decisions and working through the issues- we have already forfeited our ability to unite toward collaborative action. What opportunities we have yet to explore! What would it look like for faculty, school boards, and student governments to support and encourage and move based on deliberative democracy and issue forums? What would it take to unite students to move forward as their own advocates to reclaim democracy? I have hope for alienated individuals to become valued assets in community politics.
My name is Christina Marie Hisel. I attend University of California, Berkeley as a senior in Sociology. I am currently starting public service programs to engage students with neighborhood community issues.