Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Senator Eric P. Lesser, co-Chair of the Massachusetts Senate’s Millennial Engagement Initiative, hosted the second in a series of roundtable events at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on March 25.
The roundtable, which featured students from UMass, Amherst College, Mt. Holyoke, Smith College and Hampshire College, covered a range of topics from immigration to sexual assault on college campuses. Other issues discussed included ways the state can help curb the opioid addiction epidemic, including a landmark bill passed by the House and Senate and signed by Governor Baker in March.
“Today we listened to students and learned about the issues that matter to them,” Sen. Lesser said. “It’s our goal to turn these insights into concrete legislation that addresses the concerns and ideas young people share. Millennials are already being asked to assume responsibility for the growth of our economy and the well-being of our communities—the least we can do is pay attention to their needs.”
The visit to the Commonwealth’s flagship university also featured a meeting with graduate students and professors from the new College of Information and Computer Science. There, the Senators learned how students, faculty and researchers are using data science to improve government services and open new opportunities in fields as diverse as healthcare, energy, banking and public safety.
“The jobs of the future require expertise in data science and analysis,” Sen. Lesser said. “Attracting and retaining this type of talent in the Commonwealth, particularly in Western Massachusetts, is critical to building a strong and durable state economy.”
Millennials, or those born after 1980, are now the largest and most diverse generation in the United States. While a large portion of millennials are heavily involved in community service, a recent Harvard University survey found that only seven percent of millennials reported having participated in government.
The Millennial Engagement Initiative, chaired by Sen. Lesser, was announced in February by Senate President Stan Rosenberg. The initiative aims to encourage more millennials to become involved in politics and government, and to gain their input in the legislative process.
“Millennials’ voices and participation in government are needed now more than ever,” Sen. Lesser said. “I’m confident this new initiative will encourage more young people to engage in the legislative process.”
Elected to his first term at the age of 29, Sen. Lesser is the youngest member of the Massachusetts Senate.