Travis Smith, a Business student at Salt Lake Community College, recently joined the ranks of “Student Activist” statewide as he circulated a petition to repeal the Utah Legislature’s House Bill 477 at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus this month.
“This is quite new to me, to be acting as an activist, but I find that it is rewarding,” Smith said.
It was Smith’s first time participating in any action as an activist. Coming off a stint in the Marine Corps, he said that he felt that he wanted to do more for his country.
Smith said that he decided to try his hand on the other side of democracy and find issues that he could relate to and give his support, something that he was not able to do in such a way that could help change governmental policies when he served in the military.
Like most colleges and universities, SLCC is host to student organizations and clubs that support efforts in social injustices, charity and political issues besides those within the college experience.
Smith, however, found his own way in getting involved with issues that he felt passionate about. He wants other students to know how and why students like him can also get involved in issues that appeal to them apart from any school organization or club.
Smith said that he wanted to circulate the petition on campus because he thought he was in the perfect position to reach a diverse age and cultural audience. He said that he hoped to bring the opportunity for students to understand and hopefully support efforts in repealing the bill.
Smith explained that HB 477 was a bill that Utah Legislators quietly passed this year. It limited Utah voters’ accesses to emails, text messages and memos of Utah’s Government. He said that he first heard about HB 477 when attending a different rally for the Office of Ethnic Affairs, in which he said who was losing their funding due to State budget cuts. HB 477 has since been repealed, leaving Smith to sigh with great relief.
“As students, the transparency within the national as well as the local government is very important to keep a hold of,” Smith said. “Without it, we may be in the dark about many issues that pertain to students at public colleges.”
Smith believes that other students who are not particularly connected to a club or organization within any college can still get involved in whatever issues they are passionate about or that interests them. He said that recently, social media networks like Facebook have played a huge roll in getting out information on how to become involved in issues.
“Facebook, is one of the biggest networks in finding your particular cause, and that reaches out to students worldwide,” Smith said.
He also credits SLCC’s organizations and clubs with their efforts to pass on knowledge of a variety of issues. However, Smith cautions any student wanting to get involved to do their homework.
“I think students like us will need to do our own research on a particular issue to fully appreciate the experience,” he said.
Smith said he hopes that most students are familiar with the pressing issues of the community as well as nationally, enough to realize that students are not exempt to policy changes.
He said that issues such as student tuition rates, transportation issues, and deadlines on governmental grants or loans for students are almost continuously changed.
“Students are the next leaders, corporate executives, workers and lawmakers. I believe that it is important for students to know and give their support to issues that will affect them in the future as well as the present,” Smith said.