By: Marta Millar, UNA-Penn State Chapter President
The political issues of the 2016 election which have engulfed the nation have been no less prevalent here on Penn State University’s University Park campus, which has experienced plenty of division and debate between the establishment political clubs and the campaign efforts. In the midst of this division and controversy, our chapter was happy to host an event for the Day of Democracy that would remind everyone to take a step back and realize how fortunate we all are to have the right to vote in the first place.
Anna Mahalak and the national office for UNA-USA contacted us in August before school started, asking if we were interested in hosting an event to celebrate this international day. We would have the chance to work in conjunction with UNA-USA and with other college campuses across the nation to help kick off the “Vote like world depends on it” campaign. We were thrilled to take part in such an initiative and excited to help launch the campaign. Speaking about the event became one of the focal points of our recruitment efforts this fall and built excitement among our new members.
Before the official event, we elected to get to know our guests in a more informal setting. Both Anna and John Rutherford Seydel III, our speaker, met us at the Corner Room, a staple restaurant here in State College. A mix of new members and our officers came out to enjoy dinner and casual conversation before the event.
We then headed on to campus for the main event. We passed out GenUN swag, and once everyone was clad in the lovely blue “Vote like the world depends on it” shirts, the doors closed and the show began. John delivered an impassioned and motivational speech about the power of our generation of voters. He charged us to effect change through this amazing gift of the ability to vote and participate in our democracy, not only with regards to this national election, but also our local issues. He impressed upon us our awesome ability to achieve through organization and action, and I know each audience member expressed that they felt energized and infused with hope after hearing him speak. Personally I was fortunate to then join both him and Anna on a panel to answer questions and help facilitate a highly productive discussion about topics such as we can vote locally to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Afterwards, we mingled in the lobby so the rest of the audience would have a chance to speak to John about his ideas and his work at Revolution Nation. We were also fortunate to have several members from the Centre County chapter join us for our event, which helped reinforce the idea that the older generations in our country are depending upon us to solve the issues of the future. I know that all of the attendees will remember to “Vote For the World” this November!