Student Voices: Speaking out on the issues important to them

Students Nick Fradkin and Colin Neff make the case for more media coverage of tobacco use and mental health.
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Nick Fradkin, University of Washington, speaks out on the dangers of smoking.

Students Nick Fradkin and Colin Neff make the case for more media coverage of tobacco use and mental health.

We like students. We appreciate their energy and idealism. We value their opinion and unique point of view. We look forward to the integral role they will play in our civic life. So what if they never make the bed.

In an effort to find out more about the issues that are important to students — to inject more studentity into Crosscut — we've launched a new program called Student Voice. For the last several weeks, we'be been asking students around the region — in high schools, small colleges, big universities, graduate programs, the whole post-middle school spectrum — to answer this question: What issue isn't getting enough coverage in the news — and why is this issue important?

Many took up the challenge and submitted brief essays in response. Here are the two we liked best, from Nick Fradkin at the University of Washington and Colin Neff at Hazen High School:


Nick Fradkin

University of Washington

Public Administration/Nonprofit Management major

Tobacco use never gets enough coverage in the news, likely because knowledge of its health consequences is something of "olds." Here are two facts that may come as a surprise to most readers: It's been 50 years since the original Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, which concluded that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer. Yet, this year’s Surgeon General’s Report estimated that 1,300 people die every day from cigarette smoking. That’s the equivalent of two fully-loaded Boeing 747s crashing and killing all passengers - every day. Now, that’s headline-worthy.


Colin Neff

Hazen High School

Renton, WA

As someone with a special needs sibling I can say that the sheer lack of sufficient mental health care is an issue that is not getting the attention it deserves. The recent shootings in schools across the nation further highlight the media's inability to focus on a single topic for more than 20 seconds at a time.

The issues around mental health care do not begin and end with violence, however. There are families all around this country caring for children and other family members who make their day-to-day lives much more difficult. Without proper funding for special facilities or school programs, these families are left alone to make the best of their challenging circumstances. Providing proper treatment for children with mental health conditions and educating the general public about these issues may help to lower our crime rate and raise our standard of living. But none of this can happen unless people pay enough attention and care enough to force a change. The news is a powerful tool, which can make things happen, and it would be in everyone's best interest if it were used to raise awareness of these issues.


Crosscut will keep asking questions, a new one each week, and hoping all you Washington students out there will take the time to send us thoughtful, well-crafted replies. Each week's "best of" will be collected here. And if you have burning questions you’d like Student Voice pose, please send them along to and we'll toss them in the hopper.


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