Campus Update: More Photos from Emerson College

Given how well the first set of photos from our Emerson students was received, we decided to release more! Below are some more powerful testimonies from students describing the importance of getting big money out of our political system.

12196322_907491462661532_8842457910140406655_n

“People of color should have equal access to power and politics”

12189864_909553442455334_4179360462190540230_n

“I want the voices of women like me to matter”

11205053_907113272699351_2709515214389386585_n

“More diverse ages, colors, genders, and sexual orientations need representation!”

12065665_907122946031717_9132054653718568424_n

“Everyone deserves to be represented, no matter their income”

12190043_907118746032137_573013553331500801_n

“Women still earn less than men and contribute significantly less to political campaigns”

12112403_907111662699512_7999140065542797766_n

“Big money doesn’t care (as much) about working people or our planet”

12189551_907113946032617_6837963790289990676_n

A great photo of all the testimonies put together! #GetMoneyOut!

Campus Update: Emerson Students Record Testimonials

Our students at Emerson College recently put together a photo series of student testimonies about why big money should be removed from our political system. Our students got some great statements, many of which give important insight into why our current campaign finance system discourages democratic participation from students. Here are a few of our favorites:
CTJZmRbVEAAEtgt

“Big Oil Shouldn’t Control Congress”

CTJVpQQVEAAAOin

“Everyone Has The Right To Be Represented”

CTJUo3JVEAAP7oX

“Corporations Aren’t Constituents”

CTJRlkKUEAAslJ7

“Equal Representation Is What Our Country Was Built On”

CTJQ_cmVEAQYR6t

“Dollars Aren’t Votes”

CTJOT2IUsAA7Mcn

“It Should Be a Congress For The Citizens, Not Citizens United”

Emerson Caption Cards

“You Shouldn’t Have To Be Rich To Be Represented”

Campus Update: Vassar Chapter Illustrates Importance of Local Elections

Vassar

On Wednesday October 28th, the Vassar College chapter of Democracy Matters hosted a “Candidates Forum” in which local candidates met with students to explain why they were running for office and to answer questions. In attendance were Ann Shershin (Poughkeepsie Town Council), Rita Langva (Dutchess County Legislator District 6), Craig Brendli (Dutchess County Legislator District 8), Katherine Moloney (County Court Judge), Patricia Mcloughlin (County Court Judge), Tracy MacKenzie (Family Court Judge), and Lisa Ghartey (Family Court Judge). The event proved to be a success, drawing a large number of students and local town residents who were eager to learn more about the upcoming elections.

One of the major topics addressed at the forum was how money affects campaigns at the local level. The candidate running for County Executive, Diane Jablonski, for example, announced she was campaigning to enact a Pay to Play law, which would reduce the amount contractors could donate and still be eligible for government contracts. She claimed to have gotten the idea for this law after DM members attended a local Democratic Committee meeting last spring to explain the importance of campaign finance and specifically the viability of Pay to Play legislation.

Similarly, students learned about how local judge races are financed. The judicial candidates explained to the audience that they may not ask for donations, but are allowed to have a committee, which controls their finances and takes donations on their behalf. The goal of this funding mechanism is to prevent judicial candidates from knowing who has donated and how much has been donated. It struck some students in attendance as troublesome, however, that attorneys and firms are allowed to donate up to $5,000 to these judicial races.

Overall, for the politicians in attendance, this event successfully dispelled the myth that youth are politically apathetic; and for the students, it convinced them that local elections are indeed important. The event also made clear to many in the audience that in local elections (for which the cost to run is relatively low) one large donation has the power to swing a race.

Well done to our Vassar chapter for putting on this great event!

Campus Update: Gettysburg DM attracts large membership, plans big things

Gettysburg_College_seal

Democracy Matters at Gettysburg College has gotten off to a great start this semester.

Last Friday, Democracy Matters students participated in the Gettysburg College fall activities fair. Activities fairs are an annual or biannual event in which new students listen to representatives of student clubs about their respective organizations. For most chapters, these fairs are the ideal time to recruit new members.

In order to be heard within the hundreds of other organizations, Democracy Matters interns are forced to perfect their pitches about why joining Democracy Matters is worthwhile. This year, the DM students at Gettysburg, including their campus coordinator Jeffrey Lauck, made this look easy, as they got over 30 people to sign up to be on their mailing list.

Not only was this a huge success in it of itself, but it was also followed on Monday by another success. During the group’s first meeting of the semester, over 25 people showed up (a new record for them!).

Gettysburg Students

During the meeting, the group watched the DM introduction video and began to plan events for the semester. Among the events under consideration: a live stream of the presidential debates, the creation of a Gettysburg DM informational video, a public lecture, a voter registration drive, and a letter/phone/email campaign to put pressure on their elected representatives to enact campaign finance reform.

We are extremely proud of our Gettysburg interns for their wonderful start to the year and wish them the best of luck with their upcoming events!

Campus Update: Vassar’s Chapter Shines in Voter Registration Effort

Vassar

For the past three years, Vassar College’s chapter of Democracy Matters has turned voter registration into one of their most important and successful events of the year. This is largely because they have developed a unique strategy to meet with and successfully register large numbers of students.

At Vassar, during freshman orientation, every new student must sign a book of matriculation in order to become an official Vassar student. Our interns saw potential in this concentrated traffic, so they partnered with the school’s administration to install tables for voter registration in the same room as the book. Therefore, right after a student signs the book, an administrator directs that student towards Democracy Matters for the option to register to vote.

This registration program is in its third year at Vassar and the event has been ingrained in the social consciousness of the campus as it has been permanently added to the orientation programming.

On August 28th, over the course of six hours, Vassar’s two Democracy Matters campus coordinators, Sophie Gonsalves-Brown and Samuel Beckenhauer, and four members of their club were able to register 362 students in a class of 668. That’s more than half of the entire freshmen class!

Of the 362 registered, 132 were registered in Dutchess County, NY (home of Vassar) and 230 in the location of their home addresses (this latter group was registered with a voter registration software called TurboVote).

Our intern Sophie had this to say about the success: “Considering approximately 15% of the 2019 class was ineligible to vote because of age or citizenship status, to have registered 362 freshmen is frankly remarkable. I think our non-partisan status and committed, enthusiastic student volunteers fostered a good environment in which everyone who wanted to register could do so regardless of political beliefs or background.”

The success of this voter registration drive also helped the Vassar chapter in its political organizing. Our intern Samuel told us, “I believe that showing we are interested in tangible action at the local level, as well as being non-partisan is the most effective recruiting tool we have. There is no explanation necessary, everyone gets it.”

Samuel continued, “The 130 that registered are now a voting bloc. They can vote and make demands of their representatives. In the upcoming months, the Vassar chapter will provide these students with information about the upcoming elections, including information about the candidates and how and where to vote”. The club hopes to continue to register students to vote up until the registration deadline on October 9th.

In the past three years, Vassar has registered almost 1000 students.

Update: Turbovote highlighted our interns’ efforts in their recent email update! (Read it here). Our interns singlehandedly put Vassar in fifth place among participating school in total number of voters registered and second place in percentage of the student body registered! Wow! Go Vassar!