Policy, politics and problem-solving dominated discussion at the Roosevelt Institute’s biannual Think 2040 event.
The event, held by the organization’s Binghamton University chapter on Tuesday evening, aimed to empower students to contemplate policy solutions and discuss what changes they hope to see by 2040.
Throughout the night, students talked about what policy is and what it means, as well as the conversations young people need to have to foster long-term solutions. According to Zachary Frieden, president and co-founder of the Roosevelt Institute at BU and a senior majoring in political science, those conversations often don’t happen among college students because many feel uninformed and excluded from politics.
“The public is supposed to be involved in issues,” Frieden said. “The public is supposed to be at the table to help make decisions that affect everyone’s lives.”
The Roosevelt Institute is an undergraduate, nonpartisan policy organization with over 130 chapters across the nation, and is the only Student Association-chartered policy organization on BU’s campus. On the campus level, its goal is to improve the local community through policy creation and discourse, with a specific focus on Broome County and New York state.
Jacob Bezner, vice president of the Roosevelt Institute and a junior double-majoring in political science and history, said the organization gives students the opportunity to understand and influence their community.
“A lot of students probably have an idea of what they want to try to fix, but you don’t see everyone going up and trying to actually influence change,” Bezner said. “The reason why is because they don’t necessarily have the agency to do so. That’s where Roosevelt steps in; we give the tools you need to understand how a policy process works and how you can influence it as a student.”
By hosting Tuesday’s event, the Roosevelt Institute hoped to provide students with a platform to voice their thoughts and develop unique solutions to local issues they’re passionate about. While thinking about issues they wanted to solve by 2040, students split into brainstorming groups.
“The overall goal for the event was really to get our students thinking about changes we want to see in a big way as young people,” Frieden said. “To help them think about how to take those big visions and turn it into something we could actually do.”
David Galstyan, a junior majoring in biology, said this was his first time learning about the organization. According to Galstyan, he is interested in getting involved in the local community and was excited to share his ideas with others.
“I feel like it’s a great platform for students to get together and share ideas to discuss policy,” Galstyan said. “I just transferred [to BU] after finishing up a humanities program at a community college, so I’ve always been interested in getting involved and making a difference.”