Democracy Matters

Junior Jon Gerhartz brings national student organization Democracy Matters to Ursinus

Valerie Osborne

vaosborne@ursinus.edu

Democracy matters at Ursinus, or at least that’s what junior Jon Gerhartz is hoping.

This semester Gerhartz is starting a new chapter of the national organization Democracy Matters (DM) at Ursinus. According to the Democracy Matters’ website, DM is “a non-partisan campus-based national student organization, work[ing] to get big private money out of politics and people back in.”

“The national organization is focused on getting more students involved, getting more branches on campuses and also coordinating with those branches to organize specific events,” according to Gerhartz.

The organization offers paid internships to undergraduates responsible for creating DM chapters on their campus, which is how Gerhartz initially got involved. “I applied, like you would apply for an internship, on Handshake actually,” said Gerhartz. “I was just looking for an opportunity to become active in politics and I figured when I saw this it was a great opportunity [for me].”

Gerhartz thought that the organization would be a great fit for a campus like Ursinus, believing it could help passionate students take greater action in politics.

“Ursinus is definitely a place where there are a lot of students that are passionate about a lot of different issues, but I don’t know necessarily that a lot of students at Ursinus have mediums to express those issues … I thought that this would be a great opportunity for myself as well as many other students who are interested in making a change,” said Gerhartz.

DM recently sponsored a presidential debate watch party on Monday, Sept. 26 with some of the other political groups on campus, including the UC Democrats, the UC Republicans, and the student senate. The next event hosted by DM will be on Oct. 3 and will encourage students to become active participants in politics.

“We’re hoping to get a table to start registering people to vote … [we also want people to] be able to write a letter or sign a petition to local representatives.”

Gerhartz plans to sponsor more events throughout the semester.

One of the co-founders of Democracy Matters will also be coming to speak. Joan Mandle is a co-founder and professor at Colgate University. Gerhartz is hoping to host a lobbying workshop with Mandle.

“She’s a professor of psychology and politics and she’s really knowledgeable … she’s going to come here and give a workshop that will be open to the entire student body on how to lobby, how to make an impact in your community. Then once we have that experience we’re looking to maybe go down to Philadelphia and lobby there,” said Gerhartz.

Gerhartz is also hoping that the group will be able to host a local politician sometime this semester.

Gerhartz is planning to host DM meetings weekly as a forum for students to discuss issues and organize action plans.

“We would go over the agenda, but we’re also going to … talk more specifically about important issues … each meeting we will give out a little bit of information [on an issue] and give the students an opportunity to give their opinions … then the second half of the meeting we’re going to plan,” he said.

Gerhartz wants Democracy Matters to give students the tools and the incentive to become more active in politics.

“I think my main goal is just to get more people involved with politics,” said Gerhartz. “Because that is how our democracy is meant to work. It’s meant to be run by the people … the people cannot be stagnant.”

Democracy Matters next general meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29.

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