By Sophia Boxerman (News Editor).
In 2014, the voter turnout rate for 18- to 29-year-old American citizens dropped to just 19.9%, the lowest level on record.
The emergence of the Young American Progressives (YAP) Club and Young Conservatives Club at Sharon High this year aim to combat this unfortunate statistic, raising voter awareness and creating solidarity in a community on the cusp of a contentious presidential election.
Phoebe McAlevey, co-founder of SHS’s YAP club, says that it is important for high schoolers to be politically involved and informed about political issues so that they can make “politically accurate decisions when voting.”
She adds that one of the main reasons she formed the club this year was in response to the Young Conservatives Club at Sharon High.
“I felt the need for there to be more of a balance, and while the club isn’t strictly for liberals, I encourage everyone to come so we get many different sides for every issue, and many different points of views,” McAlevey said.
YAP co-founder Gautam Goel says that during the club’s weekly Wednesday meetings, members “engage in new topics each time, ranging from health care to minimum wage.”
“By discussing these issues, we can enlighten high schoolers and provide different viewpoints and different ways to combat those issues so they can be more educated and more involved,” Goel added.
YAP club member John Fyler, a senior at SHS, says that young people do not necessarily lack solidified political ideologies, but they never actually go out to vote.
“Their ideologies are never represented in actual politics, so it’s good to get them together and understand that there are a bunch of people that represent what they believe in,” Fyler said.
“We’re bringing together people who have similar ideologies to show them that they’re not alienated in their cause, that there are other people who believe what they believe, and it tends to make them more active in their voice in politics,” he added.
Young Conservatives club member Arthur Rabinovich says that he does not believe that young people should be overly politically involved unless they know that politics is “something that they want to go into.”
“That being said, I think that being part of a club that represents your views is beneficial. People should always be keeping up with what is going on in current issues like the economy, immigration, and education because it does affect them and the world,” Rabinovich said.
“The decision that somebody makes in the voting booth can, in the long run, affect the world for better or for worse,” he added.
Senior Heather Seggelin, a member of the Young Conservatives Club, says that club meetings are “just a chill time to talk about politics.”
Rabinovich says that he joined the club because he felt that in a primarily liberal town, his political views were hidden and his voice, “which matters as much as everyone else’s, was being shut down.”
“By being part of the club, I have benefitted from not being drowned out by the majority.”
Goel says that America is currently in the middle of a “pretty drastic political election where there are a lot of new ideas being thrown out there and lots of interesting candidates.”
“Now is a great time for young people to get involved in politics. It’s good to be involved in democracy, good to be involved in voting. That way, you can voice your opinions and make our country more representative of the population,” Goel added.