Millennials meet in Richmond to encourage civic engagement

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Zaakir Tameez is a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia.

Last October, he and his peers from UVa.’s student council advocated for the creation of a Millennial Civic Engagement Task Force.

“A month before the election we knew that, no matter who won in 2017, our world would be rife with widespread dissatisfaction of politics. We knew we had to figure out a way to re-engage our generation and reignite passion for civic life,” he said.

So, they put together a proposal detailing the problem and how they could help find a solution and presented it to Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The governor got on board.

On Friday, McAuliffe joined the new task force at its first meeting.

“There is a huge disdain for politics I’ve never seen. I’ve been involved in politics for many, many years,” McAuliffe told the members. “I’m telling you — it’s up to you, the millennials, to make the change.”

The task force is led by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and includes student representatives from Virginia’s public, private, community and historically black colleges and universities along with other key stakeholders.

“In Virginia, many millennials are disengaging from the political process. Even the most passionate among us are just sick of politics,” said Tameez, co-chair of the task force.

McAuliffe isn’t surprised.

“You can’t blame the millennials today,” he said. “You turn on the TV, everybody’s fighting each other, everybody’s yelling at each other, nobody’s willing to work with each other.”

Pew Research Center finds that millennials now match baby boomers as the largest part of our voting electorate, but getting them to care enough to cast a ballot is another story.

The task force will conduct a comprehensive assessment of current programs, organizations and services that promote civic engagement. Members will also host roundtables at campuses across the commonwealth to identify and discuss barriers to civic engagement among millennials. They will provide their recommendations to the governor.