Welcome back everyone and welcome for the first time Class of 2016! My name is George Wang and a co-chair for the Legislative Affairs Committee.
When you think of student politics, most tend to think of administrative or service functions for the student body: planning Homecomings, mediating between the student body and the administration, or giving you those refreshing water bottles at sweltering football games. The Legislative Affairs Committee is more of a behind-the-scenes committee. We seek to represent the student body before the Virginia state government. This is done through our annual lobbying trip to the Richmond State Legislature. Our other main goal is to encourage civic participation amongst students, so our efforts are not merely limited to the legislative branch.
To help you, the Legislative Affairs Committee will be dedicated to helping you participate in this year’s general election. Our initiatives this year will range from voter registration to voter education to bringing you access to candidates at all levels of the election. Remember, in addition to the presidential race, we also have a race for the Senate and the House.
This year’s election, to paraphrase both candidates, pits two fundamentally different visions of government and society against each other. For a political junkie such as myself, I could not be more excited. Yet, not just for the politics majors, but for any student, this is a rare opportunity to participate, learn, and make a difference. This election may very well decide the course of the nation for decades to come.
Come election time, us youths are often relegated to the backseat. We make for enthusiastic volunteers, but not enough of us vote or lobby or put forth collective pressure to make our voices to heard. As a result, candidates often give us scant attention.
This summer, Washington Post columnist Matt Miller wrote that he once asked (then) Senator Alan Simpson how to fix the future challenges facing today’s youths. The senator’s response? Nothing would change unless someone can come in and tell him, “I’m from the American Association of Young People. We have 30 million members, and we’re watching you, Simpson. You [mess with] us and we’ll take you out.”
Maybe this is the year for us to start that association and make our presence felt. What do you think?
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.