Political science students say they are more prepared to think objectively and make educated political decisions because of their major.
“The goal of Political Science at BYU-Idaho is to challenge and stimulate students to develop an understanding of governmental institutions and political systems,” according the BYU-I Department of Political Science Web page.
Students will be exposed to a variety of topics and fields so they can learn how to analyze and think critically, as well as identify their role as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in politics, according to the BYU-I Web page.
Alex Oliva, president of the Political Affairs Society and a senior studying political science, said his education in political science has changed the way he thinks and makes decisions, especially where it concerns politics and current affairs.
“It’s really taught me to think independently,” Oliva said. “To think where I stand, aside from being a church member, aside from being either a democrat or a republican.”
He said we are all exposed to certain ideas and thoughts growing up as a result of our environment and upbringing.
“That really influences anybody,” Oliva said. “Try to branch out.”
Oliva said the founding of the U.S. is a direct result of the desire the founding fathers had to branch out and to have more freedom to think, act and say what they wanted on an individual basis.
“You can be ignorant to the point of not wanting to do anything, of being passive,” Oliva said.
He said he has learned the importance of being informed and there are many different sources of information to pull from.
“Finding the right ones is sometimes tricky,” Oliva said.
Oliva said he is not the same person he was four years ago.
“I was still trying to figure things out,” he said. “It’s changed for the better.”
Oliva said he feels both conflicted and confident about upcoming elections.
“I feel a little more confident in that I have an idea as to how the political process works and how to analyze all the different stances from all the different candidates,” he said.
Andrew Parkin, a junior studying political science, said his education at BYU-I, as well as in his hometown in the District of Columbia area, has had a significant impact on him.
He said attending college has changed the way he looks at political issues.
“It’s opened my eyes,” Parkin said. “My political standing and ideology has shifted in certain regards.”
He said one of the biggest things he has learned is that no political problem has just one solution; they all have several outcomes.
“I think I’m a lot more of a rational thinker; I don’t jump to conclusions,” Parkin said. “When I hear stuff in the news or the media, I take it in strides. I don’t immediately start jumping on it.”
Parkin said he takes hearing those things in the media as an opportunity to do more research and look beyond the superficial remarks in the media.
“In regards to the election stuff, a lot of things are thrown out, a lot of one-liners, and it can be taken out of context,” Parkin said. “When they present the facts and stuff, there’s definitely opinion and bias to it, but when you ignore the adjectives or generalizations, you can get the basis.”
Parkin said he prefers to be informed.
“In the end, I think I like knowing better what’s going on than being ignorant, or just not knowing, because it helps me understand why certain things are happening,” Parkin said.
Parkin said we all have an impact as citizens and voters and that there have been incidents where the vote came down to just a few people.
“It definitely takes work to understand politics and understand what’s going on,” Parkin said. “Regardless of what you think, I encourage you to go out and vote.”
Parkin said he is confident about the upcoming elections.
“I know who I’m going to vote for just through my research and watching different debates,” Parkin said. “I’ll leave 5 percent wiggle room.”
Kolton Passmore, a freshman studying political science, said he has learned many new things in his first few weeks here as a student.
“You shouldn’t take everything at face value,” Passmore said.
Passmore said he has learned to pull from the viewpoints of others and inform himself.
Passmore said the best thing to do is to think about our personal and community well-being and look for answers to those questions.
Passmore said that if students think about the importance of choosing their caretakers and representatives, they will give more consequence to the issues and getting involved.
“It comes down to common sense,” Passmore said. “People have to look and think to themselves, ‘Where does my food come from? Where are my clothes coming from? Where are my jobs coming from?’”
Passmore said all those questions lead us back to the political process.
He said anyone wanting to get involved in current civil and world affairs can start by reading the paper and talking to others.
“I feel more conflicted, to be honest, because I don’t feel like this upcoming election is particularly sound,” Passmore said.
Passmore said that although he is conflicted about who he will vote for, he knows he needs to be involved.