“Everything is Political”
Political science students are engaging with local politics on and off campus.
Hood Students Want You to Get Out and Vote
- Political Science (B.A.)
- Political Science
In a politically divisive landscape, a group of Hood College students have been working to protect voter rights and increase engagement. Ibtisam Alafghani, Sadie Kowalski and Isabel Malizia are all current political science majors. They’re turning theory into practice, taking the knowledge gained from classes and applying it to campaigns across Maryland.
Isabel Malizia ’23 completed an internship with Common Cause, a non-partisan, pro-democracy nonprofit focused on passing reforms that empower voters. She advocated for public campaign financing in Anne Arundel County through training sessions, which educated people on petitioning to put issues on ballots. During the 2022 Maryland primary election, Malizia worked with Election Protection coalition volunteers to ensure equitable access to polling stations.
Malizia says that public policy, urban politics and research methods of political science courses have been helpful in her efforts at the local and state level. “It is important for students to be politically engaged because almost everything is political,” she says. “Our access to education is political. Our access to healthcare is political. Our student loan debt relief is political. We need to pay attention to politics.”
Sadie Kowalski ’25 has been actively involved in the Wes Moore gubernatorial campaign. After attending the Western Maryland Democratic Summit, Kowalski applied for an internship and was accepted as a county organizer. Stationed in Frederick County, she planned canvass events and led grassroots outreach, going door-to-door and promoting Moore’s campaign. She’s brought that experience back to the classroom, particularly in the U.S. Campaigns and Elections course.
“I believe it is important for college students to be politically engaged because people our age are the ones who will potentially run for local, state or national government positions,” says Kowalski. “It is important for them to understand how a political system works.”
Being an international student gives Ibtisam Alafghani ’25, a double major in political science and economics, a unique perspective on U.S. politics. Currently, Alafghani is involved with the Jessica Fitzwater campaign for county executive in Frederick. Fitzwater’s campaign manager was a guest speaker at Hood’s Introduction to U.S. Politics course, which led to Alafghani volunteering.
“I was really interested to get to know the process more and see first-hand how campaigns work,” Alafghani says. “I will be helping with on-site poll coverage for early voting days, which is something I am looking forward to, as I will be interacting with voters and with the process.”
Although their political aspirations are diverse, these students all have one common thread—Carin Robinson, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at Hood College. In her classes, students have been working on various projects, such as conducting surveys and even starting their own TikTok account to promote political awareness.
“I am impressed with the students’ initiative to jump into a fast-paced field, at a fast-paced time with poise and determination,” says Robinson. “Cynicism and apathy describe many young people today, but these students chose to be politically active not just for their sake, but for causes they believe will benefit others.”
Robinson’s students have also been looking for ways to make the political climate on campus less divisive. One approach is to create a bipartisan politics club, rather than having a separate Democrat and Republican club. Another is simply canvassing the Quad to talk with students about their opinions and concerns.
Hood College had a record number of students vote in the 2020 presidential election. Alafghani, Kowalski and Malizia hope this trend continues. “In many places across the globe, people don’t get to vote or decide who represents them. Here in the United States, every single person matters and can decide who gets to be part of the government,” says Alafghani. “It is a privilege to vote. It is something that makes us all equal.”
Malizia echoes this sentiment. “I encourage Hood students to vote in the midterm for the simple fact that using your voice matters,” she says. “We need to pay attention to politics. I know it can seem hard sometimes, but being an active participant in democracy matters. We have the power, and as we see in plenty of states, the right to vote is under attack with voter suppression laws.”
Thanks to the efforts of these Hood students, voters across Maryland and the nation are becoming better informed of their rights. Like her students, Robinson believes political engagement in higher education, regardless of a student’s major, can have lasting benefits. “I think it’s important for students to feel a sense of political efficacy, a belief they can influence the political process and their community,” she says. “Political engagement reminds students they matter and can make a difference when it comes to issues important to them.”