Oregon State students get personal with politics

Source: Alia Beyer, 503-949-9899, pip@oregonstate.edu

CORVALLIS, Ore. - A new project at Oregon State University is giving students the chance to speak up about the political and social issues that mean the most to them.

Throughout the past year, a number of students have recorded statements for the new Political Identities Project, a joint effort between ASOSU (student government) and the Office of Student Affairs. The collection is available online through OSU's iTunes and YouTube channels. The project seeks to add student's voices to a national dialogue on the current state of politics and society in a time when many people feel alienated from contemporary political life.

"When people tell their own story," said participant Annie Kersting, "others can find a piece of it to relate to."

The project is a multi-part series that includes readings and interviews with students who are coming to terms with being citizens and leaders in a rapidly changing world.

While studying community organizing in the year-long course Organizing for Social Change, the students were charged with exploring their own political identities in an essay assignment. Christian Matheis, the course instructor, says he knew that the potential of the narratives he got back was too great to let the stories "sit in a filing cabinet and gather dust."

He initiated the Political Identities Project in June of 2010 to publish the students' stories as podcasts and YouTube videos, recruiting the help of coordinators Shawn Nemati and Alia Beyer to produce the content and bring it to life.

One goal of the project is to prompt others to consider their own political identities, a notion that may help combat apathy.

"I feel like people just don't really care anymore," said Tyler Hogan, a senior in political science. "They feel like they can't solve anything. They can't fix any of the problems they see in their country." 

From stories of growing up under religious oppression to fighting cruelty in demonstrations for labor rights, the Political Identities Project offers fresh insight to how students understand the world they live in and the politics that shape their everyday lives.

Podcasts can be found at http://oregonstate.edu/main/itunes under the Political Identities Project collection. Videos are also available on YouTube through the Political Identities Project playlist at http://www.youtube.com/user/OregonStateUniv. For more information on this project, contact pip@oregonstate.edu.

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Alia Beyer, 503-949-9899, pip@oregonstate.edu