On Sept. 29, the Brandeis College Democrats hosted "The Engaged Citizen of 2012" in the Mandel Center for the Humanities, featuring four speakers with significant roles in the political arena in order to encourage students to become involved in the upcoming election.

Speakers included Chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party John Walsh; Mayor Setti Warren of Newton, Mass.; Executive Director of Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick's Deval Patrick Committee and the Together PAC Alex Goldstein '06 and Massachusetts State Representative Tackey Chan '95.

Walsh encouraged event attendees to not only become involved and educated voters, but to consider running for a political position in the future. "As the debates come up, imagine yourself behind those podiums ... If that makes you absolutely uncomfortable, imagine yourself as the campaign manager, the director," Walsh said in his speech.

For those with intentions of running for office, Chan said that working on a campaign is the most effective way to learn the ropes. "Work on a local campaign in particular; small campaigns give you the best knowledge about what's going on, particularly in places that you live. If you want to run, you need to take time to learn what's going on in your neighborhood, and then proceed to work on a local race to get a taste of what it's like," he suggested in an interview with the Justice.

"I like to think that young people bring with them a certain level of energy, enthusiasm [and] idealism to really go out there and try to make a difference," said Goldstein in an interview with the Justice, "and that that energy and enthusiasm is so important because it is hard to wake up day after day and get in your car and drive up to New Hampshire and [canvass]."

According to Goldstein, although a young volunteer might start off completing "grunt work," once a student shows that he or she can complete the work, it is extremely possible to move up and take on more challenging and stimulating tasks.

The first step, according to Chan, is to find a campaign to assist. "You've got to find a campaign you enjoy, or a person you like with principles you share, and then figure out your time what you can contribute and how you can contribute," Chan advised.

"Time is running out, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime election. So everybody will hopefully come away from this and be inspired to just go out there and tomorrow, walk into your first campaign office ... whether it's the Warren campaign or the Brown campaign, wherever the place is that you see yourself most aligned, and ... start doing the work," recommended Goldstein.

A collaborative effort of the Brandeis Democrats executive board and group members brought these political figures to campus using preexisting relationships cultivated through internships, according to of the Brandeis Democrats' treasurer Ula Rutkowska '15.

"I think it's important to encourage students at Brandeis to become engaged, especially this election season. Because it's such an intense election, there's so much at stake," Rutkowska said in an interview with the Justice. "These are people who are kind of inspirational ... because they've succeeded at what a lot of us hope to succeed at ... It's interesting to listen to how they did that and how they feel about it and whether or not it's fulfilling to them."

The upcoming election on Nov. 6 will include not only the presidential election between President Barack Obama and Republican and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among others, but also the U.S. senatorial race between incumbent Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Massachusetts' voter registration deadline is Oct. 17. For those who would like to vote in their home states, absentee ballot applications are available and deadlines vary in each state.