Clayton State University students got a special look at Peach state politics during Clayton State Day at the Capitol on Jan. 10.
The annual event offers students an opportunity to see first-hand how government operates with a visit to the Georgia Capitol, meeting representatives, and engaging in political discussions.
Students, faculty, and staff who attended visited the Senate and House chambers as lawmakers kicked off the first few days of the new legislative session.
Gov. Nathan Deal met the group in the Georgia Capitol rotunda to take a photo and meet students.
The university was praised for its efforts to provide an outstanding educational experience with two resolutions read in the Senate and House chambers.
State representatives from Clayton County spoke to students about the importance of voting and playing an active role in their government.
“You cannot disengage,” said Rep. Derrick Jackson, D-64. “Politics, yes, it may be construed as a dirty word, but it’s part of our life. Your quality of life depends on it.”
Jackson, a retired naval officer, said that those who serve in the military guarantee the right to vote, something not afforded to individuals in many countries.
“This democracy, it is not perfect, but it is the oldest and absolute best democracy there is,” he told the students. “It requires for you all to be engaged to keep us and hold us accountable and responsible.”
Rep. Kim Scofield D-60, a freshman representative, said one of her earliest moments engaging in politics came from visiting district representatives and senators to get them to hear her concerns about lupus, which she was diagnosed with 10 years ago.
In spite of getting ignored initially, Scofield persevered and caught the attention of lawmakers. The experience, she says, is what lead to her eventually running for office.
“One voice makes a difference. Where you are today is just the beginning,” she said. “Don’t ever think that what [you] have to say doesn’t matter. Not only is the power in the pen, but it’s the power of what you say.”
Students networked with legislators and asked questions about careers in politics.
“I learned to get more out in the community and to get involved in the community,” said Ahmad Johnson, student government president and administrative management major. “All the state representatives are here to help Clayton County and help better the school in a big way. They’re looking toward the future.”