The Democratic Debate: Why It Matters to Rutgers Students

This past Wednesday, five political personalities debated various issues in order to secure and prove their positions as Candidates for this upcoming 2016 election. These issues included student debt reform, income inequality, and immigration laws.

So, why does this matter to a Rutgers student?

If you are interested in politics or wish to learn more, college is an excellent time to continue or pursue this interest. While it may seem taxing to keep up with all affairs and recent headlines, becoming more aware of current events allows a student to have a more global perspective. It also gives us the ability to understand the issues that specifically affect college students. There are also many opportunities on campus to become more involved with addressing issues on a campus-wide, state-wide, national, and international scale.

In terms of the debate, several students huddled at the Eagleton Institute of Politics and in dorm lounges throughout the campus. From the introductory statements, the topic of student debt was mentioned. “Making college debt free” and “more affordable” were a priority for all the candidates speaking. Candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders stated that he would like to pursue his plan to “make every public college free.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about college debt refinancing. As the candidates discussed the topics of income inequality and the large influence of banks and Wall Street on the U.S. economy, they addressed that fixing these issues would in turn result in college payment reform.

The issues of student debt, interest rates on loans, and college tuition are absolutely pressing to virtually every university student in the U.S. However, they are issues that we will be able to fix with enough collective action (aka, those “Ramen Noodle Budget” days may actually be over). Forty years ago, a high school degree was equivalent to a college degree and legislatures and everyday citizens demanded that secondary education be accessible and free to everyone in the country. Now, there is a shift to demand to make college accessible to anyone who wishes to seek higher education. Along with supporting student debt reform, the candidates have spoken about and supported several topics such as women’s and LGBT rights that allow them to appeal to young people. As a college student, it is the perfect time to both become well-aware of political issues along with finding ways to advocate.

While many political organizations on campus exist such as NJPIRG and RUAIR, an article that was recently published in the Daily Targum has named Rutgers as one of the LEAST politically active campuses in the United States. However, there are plenty of ways to change this, and it all begins with knowing the issues that exist. Whether it’s advocating to make college more affordable, or taking a more global approach by joining a UN-affiliated group on campus, there are plenty of ways to get involved. There are also several groups catering to many different political affiliations. In the end, it’s not only about who you stand with, it’s why you stand with them. Once more people get involved, then more of these issues can be brought to light and addressed on a larger scale. Even the simple act of voting can change the less than 20% voter turn out for our age group.

So, whether you’re an student entering Rutgers or a senior, it’s never to late to get involved and pursue something you believe in!

(For example, a cause I believe in is all-day breakfast at the dining halls, buuuuut let’s focus on more pressing issues first)