Rutgers University Democrats aim to increase political involvement
With the effort put into the upcoming presidential election and the ongoing Democratic and Republican debates, the Rutgers University Democrats are active and working in a similar fashion right here on campus.
Rutgers University Democrats seek to promote political awareness and involvement in Democratic politics, said Manu Bhandari, Rutgers Democrats communications director and a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior.
Being the largest political organization at Rutgers, they encourage members of the Rutgers community and beyond it to get involved in the political process, according to their website.
“As an organization, part of our efforts include registering students to vote if they aren't registered, directing them to the appropriate facility to vote if they are on campus, reminding them how to cast an absentee or vote-by-mail ballot and reregistering them to vote if they so desire,” Bhandari said.
They also provide opportunities to intern and volunteer throughout New Jersey, according to their website. During the campaign season, they are especially active and aim their efforts at helping Democrats become elected in New Jersey.
The organization does not compete with any organizations on or off campus, Bhandari said.
“We often invite organizations such as Rutgers for Hillary, Rutgers for Bernie and Rutgers University College Republicans to participate in debates and discussions so our members understand issues from as many points of view as possible,” he said.
The organization meets every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Van Dyck Hall on the College Avenue campus, where speakers such as freeholders, mayors and congressmen are invited to discuss the current state of the Democratic Party and their personal work, Bhandari said.
When they are not hosting guest speakers, they have political discussions covering the latest events happening in Democratic politics nationally and internationally, he said.
Most recently, the discussion topics focus on the primaries and discussing the candidates, he said.
The organization has allowed Michael Denis, co-president of the organization, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, who passionate about politics and political issues, to become involved closely with politicians at all levels and develop friendships and connections in and beyond the organization.
“Plus, working on Democratic politics as college students provides us a voice that our elected officials usually have issues reaching,” he said. “Elected officials that I've encountered always say how pleased they are to see youth take an interest in political issues.”
It is important that students take an interest in political issues at a young age because many issues like climate change and college affordability will impact students lives many years after they leave Rutgers, he said.
Every member has the opportunity to make an impact on his or her community and the lives of others through political activism, Denis said.
Although there are no negatives to the organization, there are certain constraints, Denis said.
Coursework, involvement in other organizations and personal lives can limit how active individuals are in the organization and how they interact with elected officials. But these are similar issues many Americans face regarding their involvement in the political system, he said.
Danielle Pocock, co-president and treasurer of Rutgers University Democrats and a Rutgers Business School senior, said right now as presidents, she and Denis are working to expand the club and have more people involved.
"I’ve gained massive amounts of leadership experience, connections and a better understanding of the political world (from the organization),” she said.
Noa Halff is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. She is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @NoaHalff for more.