Raising a voice for young people
“Our entrepreneurship will save the country,” said Matthew Segal, founder and current president of Our Time, an organization he created to advocate for the rights of young people. At 25, Segal is a prominent leader in fighting for economic power to the younger generation. His interest grew while a student at Kenyon College in Ohio, where he strove to create infrastructure and promote student participation in politics and entrepreneurship.
“We aim to make our younger generation understand the entire voting process,” said Segal. “They need to know how to vote, where to do it, when to do it, and why they should even do it in the first place. I even tried to start a student voter act in the college enrollment process but it wasn’t passed.”
Segal’s college experience was the catalyst for Our Time. The idea for the Student Association for Voter Empowerment, (SAVE) began at Kenyon College, where there were only two voting machines available to students in the 2008 presidential election, and many students were obliged to wait in line for over twelve hours.
“It was a disheartening event when those still in line were told the voting was over,” said Segal.
Our Time is a non-profit organization with a national presence in over 40 college campuses. It was founded and is run by a group of people under 30 with a profound interest in obtaining economic power and partaking in national decisions. Their goals are to improve education, jobs, and awareness of the main issue voting itself poses. The unemployment rate for the younger generation is 16% and has now become a major problem.
People from everywhere have become involved in Our Time. The entire staff consists of those in their mid 20’s and encourages many younger activists to join too. “We hope to represent all young people and the rights they are entitled too,” said Segal. “Health care is also a big cost and issue for us and we need to shape education.”
Our Time uses money donated from wealthy and successful individuals as they also negotiate deals to bring down costs. “What the younger generation needs to understand is that they need to get and create whatever they need in life,” said Segal. “Our generation should have a greater leadership role in determining our own future.”
With over 370,000 members, Our Time hopes to spread its message and influence as well as help instruct the growing younger generation. Although the activists took charge during an election season, when interest was high, the members of Our Time consider it vital that opinions are contributed daily. The majority of the younger generation does not take into account that social safety is indeed an eternal debt to them, and Our Time therefore advocates for their well being and helps them understand their rights. Due to the great impact economics has, especially in the deep recession of the past few years, the focus has shifted slightly more onto economic issues during off times from voting season.
“The protection of our younger generations’ rights is crucial for our world to progress and for decisions to be made justly,” said Segal. “We, as young activists, have great strengths and [together] should learn to use that for our benefit.