Nearly half of students responding to an informal survey at the Michigan State University Union said they have begun using encrypted messaging applications as a result of the increased awareness of online tracking and monitoring from advertisers, business and the government.
In the U.S., 25 states have passed some sort of legislation aimed at protecting social media users from having to provide their online accounts to potential employers. Washington D.C. and Guam have also passed similar legislation.
As President-Elect Donald Trump continues to consider candidates for his cabinet, one who has already been chosen has influenced Michigan politics more than any other person in the state with the help of her family, and public school advocates say she threatens the foundations of the state and nation’s public school system. Last month, Trump chose Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education, something many experts say is a clear attempt to further privatize education by expanding the use of charter schools and the voucher system, something Betsy DeVos and her family have contributed financially to for the last 20 years. The family has combined to make about $14 million in political contributions in the last two years alone, according to Secretary of State data. “Their money has impacted numerous pieces of legislation in the House and Senate,” said Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which tracks political money throughout the state. “It’s obvious they wield a ton of power in not only Michigan politics but throughout the country.”
Mauger said the family’s giving in the state outnumbered the combined fundraising of the main state PACs for the United Auto Workers, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Association for Justice over that time period.
The 2016 presidential election saw roughly the same percentage of youth voters as the 2012 election, but an increase in young voters who did not identify with either major party — something experts say reflects their views on American politics and poses a clear challenge for the major parties. “Youth voters are skeptical about the two major parties,” said Abby Kiesa, director of impact at the The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. “Young people want drastic change, and they don’t think Republicans or Democrats will give them that.”
Young people are increasingly leaving behind the two major parties. This year, 35 percent of youth voters said they identify as independents, which is almost the same as the 37 percent who identified with Democrats before the election. This is compared to 29 percent independents and 45 percent Democrat in 2008.
A widening gap between young voters who have access to high-quality civic education and those who don’t is threatening young people’s ability to be active members in America’s democracy, experts say. In the 2012 election, 56 percent of youth who had any college experience voted compared to only 29 percent of youth with no college experience. Young people between 18 and 29 make up 40 percent of the youth population. The gap was similar in the 2008 election, when 62 percent of youth with any college experience voted, compared to only 36 percent of youth with no college experience. “Studies point to young people who are in wealthy districts are more likely to be exposed to the evidence-based, high-quality civic practices,” said Abby Kiesa, director of impact at The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Young voter turnout throughout the years has been stagnant, but with the majority of millennial voters now 18, the Nov. 8 presidential election could be decided by the youth. Young voters — people between the ages of 18 and 35 — are now just as powerful in presidential elections as their parents, according to analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center. The question now is: will they use their power to vote? East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks said young people are always moving, which makes it harder for them to register and subsequently cast a vote when the election arrives.
Traffic cleared and Lizzie Ausmus led me across Grand River Ave towards the MSU Union. She only had 25 minutes for an interview, in between work and her class at the engineering building. Ausmus is a bio-systems engineering junior, and she rarely has time for anything besides class and work. “It’s a struggle a lot of the time,” she said. “I don’t really have what you would call the normal college life.”
Alongside her demanding classes, Ausmus works at the Timbers Golf Club every weekend as a caddie.