By Laura Rivera-Cabrera
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials — or people born between 1982 and 2000 — make up roughly 83.1 million of the country’s population, outnumbering the baby boomers by almost 10 million people and making up over one-quarter of the United States’s population. Because a large body of millennials are college students and are typically seen as more culturally diverse than any other groups of voters, we are faced with important issues in this year’s election that could drastically affect their futures as adults. It is crucial that citizens vote in this year’s primary and general elections so that our needs are met and our voices are heard.
As college students, we must consider the price of receiving an education — especially when one of the largest sources of debt in the U.S. is college loans, according to the White House. This issue does not stop here, though. Not only are recent college graduates faced with debt, but many face difficulty with finding employment in an economy where jobs are scarce, as revealed by the Huffington Post in June 2015.
As members of a very diverse community, we should be concerned with issues such as racial and income equality, immigration and LGBT and women’s rights. In a world where much disparity is experienced among immigrants and minority groups — including African and Asian Americans, Latinos, women and members of the LGBT community — we must ask ourselves if these groups deserve the same rights as everyone else.
Do immigrants, legal and illegal, deserve health care under the Affordable Care Act? What can we do to change our legal system that abuses countless minorities every day? What rights do we grant women over their bodies? Should the LGBT community have the right to create families of their own? As humans and citizens of the world, what is our responsibility over our environment? With climate change being a huge issue and hundreds of species being endangered, what needs to be done to preserve our earth and the creatures that live in it?
We must consider the issues that we face every day and ask ourselves which candidate represents our values and beliefs about human rights, the cost of an education, employment and our environment. As young people, we are responsible for shaping our futures and securing our world to ensure that we will live healthy, successful lives. Voting is an important and vital right because we are given power to make a difference in our communities, and it is something that cannot be taken for granted.
As Americans, we are afforded a right that many other countries lack — the right to vote. Unfortunately, because many citizens do not exercise that right, many of our needs are not met. The Institute for College Access and Success reported that in New Jersey, almost 70 percent of college students graduate with debt weighing in at an average of roughly $28,000. The Population Reference Bureau has affirmed that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. Women and the LGBT community continue to fight the battle against prejudice and injustice. We must question the state of our nation and think about how we will address these issues and create change.
The New Jersey primary elections are on Tuesday, June 7. Registration to vote is offered on campus at various times and dates, however, it is also very easy to register to vote on your own. If you are unable to vote in your hometown on election day, absentee ballots are available online to give students the opportunity to vote away from home. Visit vote.usa.gov and get started on being a voice.
Students share opinions around campus
Should young people vote?
“It’s imperative to vote in the upcoming elections… If we don’t vote, we don’t get a say (in government).”
“I think it’s really important because (millennials) make up a really big portion of the population.”