UCDC: In The Room Where it Happens

To quote Aaron Burr in Hamilton: An American Musical, “I wanna be in the room where it happens.”

And if you haven’t seen the exchange between the cast and VP-elect Mike Pence, you guys aren’t utilizing the internet properly. It’s been three weeks since the election that shook up the world took place, and you’d be surprised just how much things haven’t changed for those of us studying in DC. We still have to attend our classes every week, go to our internships all day, and get ready for the onset of cold weather that has us Californians shaking in our boots – other UCDC residents from CMU and the University of Michigan are adamantly making fun of us.

Something that is different from the daily routine of breaking news: every day there’s something to report about Trump’s impending presidency. He’s meeting with potential cabinet members, going to security briefings, posting tweets, deleting them… All of it qualifies as news that US citizens should be aware of.

The one really positive thing about being in Washington during this stressful period is that I’m surrounded by people doing work. More than half the building has participated in protests, but they’re also going to work for congressman and policy think tanks every day, crafting plans to fight back against the potential tyranny of a Republican federal government. It’s great to see how invigorated my peers are and it inspires me everyday to think, “What can I do to continue making an impact?” And everyone I know – Washington and San Diego alike – seems to be asking the same question.

I want to be in “The Room Where it Happens” — I want to continue trying to pass policy that helps people, instead of scaring them. And I know people at UC San Diego want the same thing, want to create real, positive change that can help those around us.

But how can we really do that? Well there are many methods, particularly for college students. And as I’ve mulled over my options as a participant of UCDC, I think that we can all give back in bigger ways.

We can be a part of the true change and we can be in the room. But the only means of getting there: time. Those who want to make change don’t give up easy. Those I’ve met in DC who will change the world are fighters. They want to see their goals through. And the only technique that opens doors is remembering why we are all quarreling in the first place: to make life better for everyone. Not just some. And thankfully, there are a lot of options for continuing the battle:

  1. Congress is both accessible locally and in DC. There are 5 Congressional Districts that encompass the general San Diego area, and they all have offices you can intern at in CA and DC. They are the people who can really help move policy through. And three of the closer Representatives (San Diego’s Juan Vargas, La Jolla’s Scott Peters, and San Diego’s Susan Davis) are Democrats. There are also offices for the Senators: powerhouse Diane Feinstein, who will keep serving until she dies, and protege extraordinaire Kamala Harris. So many options to be a part of the legislature!
  2. Nonprofits A.k.a, those who give their time and energy outside of the government to enact change. ERC has a great list for organizations in the San Diego Area that offer internships – check it out!
  3. Think Tanks got us thinking. These organizations are where the real policy initiatives are made. They are funded by donors to do extensive research and then to turn their findings into policies which can be implemented. Academics like to work here and it’s an innovative opportunity to gain research experience. They’re all over the place in different capacities, you just have to do some, you guessed it, research.

It’s not going to be an easy run… But I think we’ll all make it through. If we stick together, and remember our own goodwill, things will look up. Keep on loving each other and happy (almost) finals!