EDITORIAL: Local government affects you more than you think


Jacob L'Hommedieu

A Loyola student is pictured wearing George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog ‘I Voted’ sticker. By voting in New Orleans and participating in local politics, students can become an active part of the community.

Jacob L'Hommedieu, Op/Ed Editor

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has encountered criticism after criticism over the past year of her tenure as the city’s leader. Between spending ludicrous amounts of money on travel, attempting to police media coverage of her administration and the inconsistencies of trash pick-ups, there is a long list of problems locals have with the mayor.
But regardless of the mayor’s infamous presence in the city, many out-of-state Loyola students are not aware of the complaints made against her. Even fewer students are aware of her potential recall.
To be active citizens of the city of New Orleans, Loyola students need to become more conscious of the community we live in, and they need to do things that will allow them to actively participate.
In being inside the bubble that is Loyola’s campus, it is easy to forget that we are indeed a part of the Greater New Orleans community. Not knowing of news surrounding the mayor’s tenure is just one of many examples of the way students can forget.
Often, students at Loyola only participate in local attractions in the city that deal with food, entertainment, and other activities, which would have been illegal during Prohibition. But the reality is this: students who come to New Orleans for college are citizens of the city for at least four years. They aren’t tourists, though they often act like them.
And even for those who only live in New Orleans during the school year, that is still more than half the year spent in this city. Being informed on where you live is essential. It’s part of how you participate in the community.
There is always more we can do to participate in living in this city. Even if it means reading a local headline every now and again, it helps to ground yourself as at least a temporary citizen of New Orleans. All of us like to take advantage of the amenities that New Orleans provides to us. It’s part of the reason most of us are even here. But it is important to look beyond the glimmery surface and at the reality behind it all.
Registering to vote in the city is the first step one can take in taking a part in that reality. Here in New Orleans, early congressional primary voting begins October 25. For the congressional general election, early voting begins Nov.26.
St. Ignatius calls for us to go and set the world on fire. But to start a fire, you have to start with a spark. Be that spark. Learn more about the city you live in. Follow the local news and immerse yourself in the community you have chosen to make yourself a part of. Once you have done that, go vote. Help change this community for the better.
In addition to being an important part of giving back to the community, there are benefits that come with centering yourself with local news. In our globalized society with its crazy 24-hour news coverage of events that will have inevitable historical effects we almost cannot comprehend, it is easy to feel like you are drowning in information. You spread yourself thin, trying to figure out what to care about and whether you’re caring enough about the right things or not. By taking a step back and narrowing your focus on what is within your grasp, it helps to tune out the constant noise we all experience.
And with knowledge, comes power, and with power, comes the ability to act. When we zoom back to look into the happenings of New Orleans, we become more aware of what is going on around us. Some of it may not be as eye-catching as ongoing military conflicts in foreign nations, but the effect it has on us will be much more substantial. For real change to take place, it needs to start at the local level, in communities like the one we are a part of.