How Politically Involved Are RMHS Students?

Catherine Adams ('21), Co-editor

How Involved are RMHS Students with Politics and what Policies are they Passionate About?

With the last presidential and vice presidential debates, and the election coming up in less than a month, RMHS students shared that their involvement has become strong and they care about news and politics more than before. 

RMHS students were asked how they feel about the current political climate through polls and interviews. A survey of 50 students through Instagram polls showed 74% of students are involved with politics in some way.  Through RMHS, some wrote that they are involved with the RMHS Politics Club, the Orbit, DECA, or Mock Trial.  Many others watch the news and read newspapers that captivate their interests in politics.  

Right now, students shared they feel the American political climate is tarnished with hate and division.  Coming up on a historical election, some RMHS students can vote, meaning that they can use their voice.  Of those surveyed, only 18% percent could vote, but that doesn’t cause others to shy away from political involvement.  If anything students shared that they are more likely to research and develop their opinions now in order to be ready when the time comes to vote.  

The last presidential and vice presidential debates have been a topic of discussion in classes. Some teachers assigned the debates as homework in their classes.  Of those who watched them, about 52% said that their views were influenced by the debates.  William Adams (‘22) shared that “While the debates were not what one would expect from presidential candidates, they showed perspective of the type of person who is good for the country even for future elections aside from the 2020 election.” 

So the question comes up, What do the students of RMHS care the most about in terms of politics? The RMHS Politics club specifically has been discussing in the past weeks the topics that concern students of RMHS. Those include: climate change, equal rights, health care, taxes and education. 

From the same polling the Orbit asked what students value the most out of those topics. 60% of students felt that they value equal rights as the most important. Jenni Wheeler (‘21) shared in a meeting that she voted for equal rights because: “the current state of our county in which some marginalized groups are treated as subhuman is unacceptable and disgraceful. Why do I sometimes feel as though America frequently contradicts the same principles that it claims to stand for: liberty, justice, and equality? It is not enough for one to care about these human rights issues while they are “trending”; we must fight for change every day to ensure that America provides liberty and justice for all of it’s descendants–not just those with privilege, pride, and power.” 

With a majority, 76% of students feel the country values tax cuts or increases as the most important political issue. Declan McClellan (‘21) chose this answer because he says “honestly taxes are what affects most Americans, especially the middle class.” 

Students are particularly interested in policies regarding their immediate future.  For those who are planning to enroll in a two or four year college after high school, they feel that some student loan reduction or cut in college pricing is ideal.  Through the same poll, 89% of students favor student loan cuts over free public college. 

This was an interesting point and one that students had a lot of opinions about.  Students discussed how certain law makers have plans to make this happen. Leaders like Bernie Sanders want to off free tuition at public universities and others like Joe Biden want to make public tuition free and cut student loans for families who make less than $125,000.  This also counts for those who already attended a public college or university, their loans will be cut if they make less than $125,000. President Trump has a plan that would decrease the repayment term for undergraduates and increase it for graduates. Regardless of support for these candidates as a whole, students felt that any reduction to debt and tuition would be in their best interest for their future. 

The students of RMHS have spoken and a lot of students are involved with politics or care about it, which is powerful for the Reading community and future of the country.