Democracy Matters strengthens students’ efficacy

So how involved in democracy are you? Do you want to be more in tune with political happenings, but aren’t sure how to start? Democracy Matters is a national organization based in college campuses across the country that offers students a chance to get involved in politics.

“Democracy Matters, here in Geneseo … tries to connect Geneseo students to their [governmental] representatives,” campus coordinator of Geneseo’s chapter of Democracy Matters senior Kevin Castañeda said.

Such as the voter registration drive that took place on Monday Sept. 9, Democracy Matters events are designed to encourage students to get involved in local politics and educate students about what is going on in their political sphere.

“As part of the whole initiative of assuring that our democracy stays alive, the big deal is trying to make sure those channels of communication [between the students and our representatives] stay open,“ Castañeda said.

While events are usually based on the opportunities Democracy Matters has to establish them, one big event is usually planned for each semester.

“This semester we’re concentrating on having a panel, inviting our state representatives to hear and respond to questions the Geneseo student body may have,” he said. “What we’re doing is concentrating on specific political groups to coalition build with us and ask politicians their own respective questions.”

The panel will probably be composed of five to six organizations. While there is no set date for the panel yet, it is planned for mid-October. There are also other educational events in the works.

While focusing primarily on student involvement in local politics, Democracy Matters has an ultimate goal of organizing a public financing system for all elections, from nationwide to local.

One initiative seeks to establish a source of public funds for candidates to use in their elections. This is primarily to encourage candidates to focus on appealing to the needs of the voters rather than the needs of those who would offer to sponsor said candidates.

“Other organizations try and [do what we do] nationally … trying to incorporate a whole national amendment to try and [establish] a public financing system.” Castañeda said. “We work on a state-by-state basis … If enough people in a state want it, hopefully it will pass.”