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Students start Democracy Matters chapter at BU

Kaitlin Geraghty (CAS ’18) starts an organization on campus called Democracy Matters. PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NOVAKOVIC/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University student Kaitlin Geraghty is starting a new organization called Democracy Matters on campus to help get more students engaged in politics.

Democracy Matters is a nonpartisan national student organization dedicated to mentoring the next generation of leaders and to strengthening democracy.

The new organization will hold petition campaigns, educational sessions, peaceful political discussions, documentaries screenings, lobbying and other student-initiated “actions and projects connecting pro-democracy reforms” to global issues, Geraghty said.

Joan Mandle, the executive director of Democracy Matters, said through these efforts, she hopes students become more involved in politics.

“Young people sometimes feel like they are very alienated and cynical about politics,” Mandle said. “We need to get them back into thinking they can speak out for their own needs and desires.”

BU political science professor Virginia Sapiro also considered it crucial for college students to be knowledgeable about politics.

“Young people in every generation tend to be much less active in local, state and national politics than older people are,” Sapiro said. “In other words, they are likely to be [more active] when they get older, [have] established homes, settle in jobs, pay taxes, etc.”

“BU provides opportunities and encouragement to be active citizens,” Sapiro said. “The responsibility we all have is to get involved and not wait for an institution to get us involved.”

A junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, Geraghty first learned about Democracy Matters through Handshake, BU’s career development website.

“I thought it was a really interesting organization,” Geraghty said. “It allows people to learn about different political causes in a nonpartisan way and allows for more education and discussion about things that people might not feel comfortable discussing.”

Geraghty is one of the students who had acquired a paid internship from Democracy Matters as a campus coordinator. On the national level, Democracy Matters gives about 50 scholarships and internships to college students “wherever students are passionate about making a difference,” Mandle said.

“I’m in charge of all aspects of Democracy Matters on campus,” Geraghty said. “I report back to my supervisors about what’s going on at campus and how they can best support me. I try to invite people who really have established personalities to do speakers series here on campus.”

Nevertheless, Geraghty said she would not underestimate the difficulty of establishing this new organization, and that her biggest challenge as well as her next step was to recruit students who were passionate about politics like her.

“That’s what makes the organization interesting,” said Geraghty. “Everyone can bring their own opinions and reasonings to the table to create a respectful and understanding environment.”

Students agreed that it was important to find ways to be engaged in politics while in college.

Jacob Jaskiel, a sophomore in CAS, said he appreciates the nonpartisan nature of the new organization.

“I think there needs to be more free discussion and debate about politics here,” Jaskiel said. “It seems like these days, people are so polarized on one side and just want to hear about their own ideas.”

Paula Segovia, a sophomore in the Questrom School of Business, also recognizes the value of having open-minded political conversations on campus.

“A lot of people get very sensitive and defensive [when talking about politics], but that doesn’t help the problem anyway,” Segovia said.

Segovia said she had recently become more active in learning about politics as she realized a lot of the topics in the campaign “have been dismissed” in her age group.

“I sometimes watch comedy shows,” Segovia said. “There are lots of satires — it’s funny but also pokes at the ridiculousness of current issues.”

Noelle Monge, a freshman in CAS, said she thinks college students should take action on issues that are important to them.

“I think every college student should take actions in nonviolent ways to stand up for those people who can’t stand up for themselves,” Monge said. “We should use our voices because we are the generation that holds most power.”

In a previous version of this article, Kaitlin Geraghty was mentioned as a sophomore when at the time of the article she was a junior. Also the headline called the organization Democracy Now instead of Democracy Matters. The current version reflects those changes.

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One Comment

  1. Rachel Geraghty

    Wow! So proud of you! Congrats Kaitlin I know you will do great things!