LETTER TO THE EDITOR: UMD students are part of the Duluth community

UMD Alum responds to last weeks opinion piece "I didn't vote and it's okay."  

I was reading last week’s edition of my Alma Matter’s paper and noticed an opinion piece penned by Cole White: “I didn’t Vote and that’s Okay.” White claims that by not voting on our past election that it was not an affront to democracy but instead an embracement of it. First off- by not voting in an election is not an embracement of democracy. Not voting is not an act of rebellion but an act of surrender. However that isn’t the point that I would like to address. Mr. White’s claim that students don’t have a future, or even a vested interest in Duluth is misguided at best; the argument seems to be a red herring that students don’t have a future in Duluth (and because of that shouldn’t vote). By all technical definitions you, as a student, are a resident of Duluth. The U.S Census Bureau counts you as such, you spend well over a majority of your year here, nine to twelve months, you help us as a City secure funding from the Federal Government due to our population, you pay sales tax here, (and really property tax which is in rolled into your rent monthly)

Look, I was a student at UMD not long ago. You’re trying to figure out what you want to do and what your future will look like. Do you know for certain that it doesn’t involve Duluth? Either upon graduation or ten years later if you move back? I remember coming up to UMD in 2007 from southern Minnesota, and the narrative was, you would go to UMD graduate and move out of Duluth because there was no place to work in Duluth. There are some that still believe this to be the narrative; however the fact of the matter is, Duluth’s median age is decreasing, our city is getting younger because younger people are staying in Duluth, we have the lowest unemployment rate in recent history of Duluth and we are adding good paying jobs with benefits for our college graduates to fill, and Duluth and it’s city leaders must continue this trend.

One of the goals of Duluth needs to continue to streamline education outcomes with employment so that when you receive your diploma on a Saturday in May you can punch a time card that following Monday right here in Duluth. Students have a real stake in Duluth and are our future, UMD’s success is our City’s success and vice versa. By not voting you make cloudy the direction that Duluth is going by not providing your input of which direction you want to see Duluth take.

I cannot stress enough that as a student you are a resident of Duluth, and are invested in our Duluth community, and the Duluth community is invested in your success. You don’t need to live here 10 or more years to have a stake in Duluth and our success, you have that now. The average American family moves on average every four years, and they vote. Even if you are here for the next four years know that Duluth is your real home at this point in your life (and maybe beyond!) and you are as much invested in Duluth as an 87 year old lifelong Duluthian.

Noah Hobbs

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