Everyone has heard of the phrase "youth are the future," and it is frequently accompanied by the sentiment that leaders should hold the interests of youth at heart when making decisions.
But, as I write in my opinion piece with the San Diego Union-Tribune, when students began to get involved with the City of San Diego's 2020-21 redistricting process, students were not treated as such:
At the recent redistricting hearing, Commissioner Fred Kosmo said, “I’m impressed with the college students and their enthusiasm, but a lot of people who have families and jobs — they came out, too. ... You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” This tone-deaf statement implies that students are not employed or do not have families to support — and that affordable housing is not a basic need.
Instead, the commission has demonstrated a preference for wealthy, single-family homeowners.
Yet [student] voices have been drowned out at redistricting commission hearings. After dozens of students spoke out in special hearings for Districts 1 and 6, organized political insiders in La Jolla, including former council President Sherri Lightner, responded to our concerns by rallying to preserve the status quo exactly as it stands ... To date, the majority of commissioners have demonstrated far more concern for the feelings of these La Jollans than any other community.
It is clear that students are not being treated as the stakeholders of the future––or even as community members––that they are often ascribed to be. San Diego Redistricting Commission, take note: students are far from done fighting.