Making our voices heard: Anya Kaplan-Hartnett on political activism

As our country becomes increasingly politically divided, more youth are becoming politically involved. Joining this national movement are many local students, including a number of students here at Uni.

Anya Kaplan-Hartnett is one of the many politically active students at Uni. The junior was a leader of the walk-out/teach-in on gun violence last spring and an intern with congressional candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan.

“I learned about [Dirksen Londrigan’s] campaign from someone who was in the group that organized the walk-out […] I really felt strongly that Betsy’s campaign was really important right now, and I really wanted to have a greater role,” Kaplan-Hartnett said, regarding her increased political involvement.

As an intern, Kaplan-Hartnett spent hours knocking on doors and making phone calls to inform voters about Dirksen Londrigan and encouraging them to vote. Quite obviously, this is a major time commitment, especially for a high school student.

Kaplan-Hartnett acknowledges that it could be “difficult to balance everything […] a lot of times I won’t get home until 9 o’clock at night because I have phone-banking shifts,” she said. She also ran for the Uni girls cross country team, which practiced ten hours every week.

However, Kaplan-Hartnett believes that her time and sacrifices were worth it.

“I think that Betsy is an amazing candidate for central Illinois […]I believe in her a lot,” said Kaplan-Hartnett. “I just think that this election is probably the most important election that I’ve ever seen.”

Though getting involved in politics can be challenging before voting age, Kaplan-Hartnett believes there is great value in interning with a political campaign.

“I’ve certainly learned a lot about how politics work from being part of the campaign, and I think that will prepare me to be a better voter when I am allowed to vote,” said Kaplan-Hartnett.

Because of her experiences, Kaplan-Hartnett is an advocate for lowering the voting age to sixteen.

“If you’re about to leave the restaurant, you don’t get to order for the table,” she said. She then added: “young people should be the ones to decide our political future.”

READ: Uni students react to the midterm elections