Our generation has been silent for too long when it comes to the critical debates of our nation’s future. We are the Millennials — born between the 1980s and 2000s — who’ve come of age amidst September 11th and the Great Recession. Almost half of us think we’ll be worse off than our parents, with good reason. Each year, tuition rates rise and the average college student graduates with $26,600 in debt. To make matters worse, at their current rates, Social Security and Medicare will be unable to pay out full benefits before any of us retire at age 65.
Now, the question becomes how Millennials can both make their voices heard and impact governance. By virtue of being young, we lack money and connections. If we can organize and empower young people to engage in the political process, we can have numbers, particularly on college campuses like the University. With numbers, we can build megaphones that catapult us into the national conversation.
Common Sense Action is a conversation starter. Our generation has the largest stake in our nation’s future. By crafting the Agenda for Generational Equity, CSA is convening Wolverines from across the political spectrum to discuss policy solutions on issues so pressing to our generation that they transcend party lines. If we succeed in widening the gateways of economic opportunity and investing in the future, we Millennials will experience the 21st century as another American century. But if we fail, we will be the first generation to experience American decline.
CSA fights for generational equity — the guarantee that the gateways of American opportunity should be open as wide for us as they were for our parents and our grandparents. Our future is in the hands of a Congress that remains paralyzed in partisan gridlock. If our elected officials cannot even compromise to write a national budget, we must take it upon ourselves to work on bipartisan solutions to ensure a promising future for our generation.
Here at the University, CSA is drafting policy that acknowledges that our tuition rates are rising and our social security trust is diminishing. We’re joining campuses across the nation to build a policy framework that will be advocated in the halls of Congress, our communities and wherever our message needs to be heard. As a generation, we no longer have time for partisan gridlock.
How will our policy impact governance? Our policy will focus on finding solutions to issues we, as Wolverines, have decided are the most pressing. We have addressed Social Security, tax reform and higher education and continue to examine issues that disproportionately affect our generation, including incarceration. On Nov. 23, CSA will host a campus congress, where we will convene student groups across campus to debate, amend and discuss policy proposals. In January, CSA chapter leaders will gather in Washington, D.C. to finalize a national Agenda for Generational Equity platform, a product of each campus’ respective proposals.
We — our peers, friends, siblings and fellow Wolverines — will be the ones who take the brunt of lawmakers’ inability to provide solutions to the grave challenges we face. We will not sit on the sidelines while our future hangs in the balance. We need you, fellow Wolverine, and your insights, ideas and innovations. We need your passion and voice. What we are not open to is inaction. What we are not open to is failure to make nation-building compromises. What we are not open to is expanding generational inequities — the closing of the gateways of opportunity.
Raina Sheth is an LSA senior.