Civic Engagement Opportunities for Austin Students

A guide to getting involved and making your voice heard

A speaker at the People vs. State of Texas rally in Sept. 2021 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

When it comes to staying civically engaged, there’s no shortage of opportunities here in the state capital.

We’ve got an election coming up Nov. 8 and it’s important to vote whenever you can, but becoming active in local organizations between elections is a great way to effect real change in your community, the city, and beyond. The Chronicle covers local issues and upcoming events every week so you can stay informed, and here are just a few groups you might want to be aware of if you can fit some civic activities into your busy student schedule.

Austin Justice Coalition

AJC is a grassroots activist org committed to addressing criminal, economic, and social justice issues. They’ve been meeting on the first Tuesday of each month for folks who are interested in getting involved, and regularly seek volunteers. If you’re passionate about social justice, follow them on social media to keep tabs on what’s going on in the city and how you can help, which could be as simple as completing a survey or registering to speak on an issue at a City Council meeting.

Travis County Democratic Party

Former Gov. Rick Perry once noted that Austin is like a blueberry in the tomato soup that is Republican-dominated Texas. Democratic activity and voter turnout is higher here than in surrounding areas, so if you're a blueberry, it'll be easy to find your bunch. Even if you’re not yet able to vote, you can volunteer with the TCDP, and there are plenty of Democratic groups to join. Students can find school-specific groups who’ll most likely all be tabling around campus at the beginning of the semester; and there’s the Austin Young Democrats (age 40 and under), who meet on second Thursdays, 6:30pm, at Cheer Up Charlies; and the LGBTQ group Stonewall Democrats, who meet on second Wednesdays, 6:30pm, at the Carver Library, to name a few. Check TCDP’s Mobilize site to find volunteer opportunities doing things like writing postcards and block-walking for Dems running for office.

College Student Commission

The CSC discusses and makes recommendations to the City Council on matters related to student life and campus concerns, and is composed of three members each from five schools in the Austin area: UT-Austin, St. Edward’s, Concordia, Huston-Tillotson, and Austin Community College. Each college nominates students to serve on the commission, and it meets several times throughout the year. Find out about its upcoming meetings at or in our civic events listings, and public commentary is welcome at meetings for students wanting to make their voices heard on issues such as campus safety, transportation, and affordable housing.

Find more ways to stay engaged every week at or in the paper, on stands every Thursday.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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