USG Report: Political participation can extend past voting

In my previous column, I suggested that we should all engage in tough conversations surrounding the topic of the election to move our country forward. I hope over Thanksgiving break, many of you were able to participate in these talks with family and friends alike. This is a great first step, but there is always more that can be done. Each of us bears a responsibility to mold and shape this world for the better. We must all shoulder this weight in order to maintain a society that is politically inclined.

According to NPR, roughly 24 million people under the age of 29 voted in the past election. Although this seems like a large number of people, there are approximately 126 million eligible voters who are either in Generation X or Generation Y.

I understand that some people may feel that their vote does not matter on a greater scale. Therefore, these people may choose not to vote. In the past, I have written other articles for this column trying to convince skeptics and cynics otherwise. This time, I will entertain the idea that there are other ways to shape our democracy without voting.

While I am not endorsing the act of abstaining from a vote, I would like to highlight the ways you can be a catalyst for change without casting a ballot.

Participating in our democracy comes in varying forms that are extremely accessible to students at Baruch College. Volunteering for local nonprofit organizations, showing up at community meetings or calling your elected official to share your thoughts on an issue are all forms of fulfilling our social and political responsibilities.

Baruch offers fellowships for students to work at nonprofit organizations. Students are also able to pursue internships that place students in government offices and enroll in classes that teach students how to run effective public campaigns.

We must constantly keep tabs on those who are in office in all levels of government. We must be vigilant to ensure that elected officials are representing our true beliefs. We must hold elected officials reponsible for reflecting the wants and needs of their constituents. By taking on these roles, we ensure that engagement in the political process is not an act that occurs once every four years or only during election season.

Being a cynic is the easy part. Calling out flaws or injustices in the system without backing it up with action is a strong wind through an empty cave and will not create necessary change. The time to work has come.

Daniel Dornbaum is the president of USG. He can be reached at daniel.dornbaum@usgbaruch.com. His office is located at 3-272 in the Newman Vertical Campus.

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