Grand Rapids event encourages young voters

Donald Zinmann

Dylan Graham

Donald Zinmann

Chelsea Stoskopf

The second annual Grand Rapids Young Professionals event, titled “A New Conversation: VOTE! Be the Change You Want to See,” is coming to the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids on Oct. 13. This event is open to the public, and Grand Valley State University students are encouraged to attend in order to learn more about the upcoming mid-term elections affecting the state and country.

“Any young professional who is interested in having a voice within the community and state through voting and becoming more educated about the November elections should come,” said Amanda Rogalski, GRYP board president. “It will be a good educational opportunity for anyone of voting age or older.”

The VOTE! event will feature Grand Rapids City Clerk Lauri Parks, who will speak about the issues in the upcoming election. A panel discussion with representatives from each political party talking about where they stand on the issues will follow the speaking. Afterwards, there will be a Q&A session and tables set up with information about the other organizations that play a part in the event, as well as a collection of fruit juice boxes for donation to Kids Food Basket, Rogalski said.

Paul Leidig, ssistant dean of Padnos college of engineering and computing, said that any event which can initiate dialogue and understanding of positions and views of various groups without media spin is a good one for students to attend.

GVSU political science professor Donald Zinman said he encourages students go to any event where they could better inform themselves about the issues leading to the election.

“I think it is a shame that the voter turnout in these mid-term election years always is so depressed from the levels in a presidential election year,” he said. “Something like this (event) could be a valuable venue for people. I think that it is probably a lot more constructive than 30-second sound bite ads on TV.”

The committees that helped to plan the event include the Asian Professional Organization, BL2END, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

Rogalski said that as collaboration, they wanted to start a series of events that would bring together members from each organization and become one collective unit, which is how “A New Conversation” event began.

When planning for the event this year, the committee felt it was important to try and engage young professionals and voters to go vote and become more informed about the political processes with the many open political offices, Rogalski said.

“As a student or someone looking to start their career within Grand Rapids, they will be becoming more educated about how the political process is important (along with) learning about these different types of organizations and other programs,” she said. “There are a lot of valuable ways that young professionals and future professionals can plug into the community.”

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