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Chapter Seeks Millennial Equity

By David Fialkow ’15


Jessica Seigel ’16 is crafting a bipartisan agenda for millennials. Photo by Laurence Kesterson.

Many Swarthmore student groups have social and political agendas. But for a new campus chapter of Common Sense Action (CSA), generational equity is the main issue.

“We want to build an advocacy base of students,” says chapter founder and president Jessica Seigel ’16, a political science major and peace and conflict studies and public policy double minor from Turnersville, N.J. “People don’t realize how big the issues of generational equity and millennial mobility are. We’re all so focused on activism on this campus, but this is a big issue that people don’t see. We want people to be informed on these issues.”

CSA, a national student group backed by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington, D.C.–based think tank, has 25 college chapters. CSA aims to bring concerns most relevant to today’s millennial generation (born during the early 1980s to the early 2000s) to the forefront of meaningful political discussions on campus. Topics include Medicare, which many millennials argue is a program that will not survive to benefit current college-age students.

Seigel met with leaders of other college chapters in Washington, D.C., in January at the BPC, “debating policies, writing policies, and composing what we felt like was a bipartisan and plausible agenda,” Seigel says.

All this year, CSA teamed up on campus with Rick Valelly ’75, Claude C. Smith ’14 Professor of Political Science, who gave a talk in March titled “Political Scientists Love Political Parties: Should They?” to give community members a chance to learn about the group’s bipartisan nature, some of its policy goals, and the current state of American political parties.

“The parties are at loggerheads, and partisan rancor is a problem,” says Valelly. “This group is trying to find a way to depolarize American politics, and anything that will do that in a good way makes sense.”

Valelly also notes that there are issues of generational inequity that need to be addressed, besides the more obvious ones, such as Medicare.

“The serious generational equity issue is student loans and higher-education finance,” he asserts. “That’s a problem of Congress—basically allowing for-profit providers to use up a lot of money they shouldn’t be using. Essentially it’s very easy to become very wealthy by providing student loans. That should be shut down or regulated much better than it is.”

Other CSA members have noted that it offers something other groups on campus do not, namely a place to discuss practical policy items as opposed to broader ideas and opinions about politics.

“I feel we have very little honest bipartisan discussion,” says Katie Rozsa ’16, a political science and Arabic double major from San Rafael, Calif. “CSA has people with very different views, ethnicities, backgrounds, and geographic origins coming together and talking. I hope that we can expand the discussion to more people interested in politics.”

CSA has plans afoot for this fall, fueled by a national silver-level win in a CSA-led contest to obtain the most signatures to support the group’s views on how to create a better future for millennials.

“We are looking to have one amazing speaker from the BPC come here as a result of winning second place,” says Seigel. “We are consumed with academics, and it’s often hard to separate from that and get involved, but this is something that is so important and integral to our lives.”

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