Election 2020: Why Students Can’t Afford to Sit This One Out


Dr. Albert Ponce gives his presentation. (Autumn Jarmel/The Inquirer)

Autumn Jarmel, Staff member

Dozens of students filled the Diablo Valley room on Feb. 25 to take part in an Election 2020 discussion with Dr. Sangha Niyogi, a DVC sociology professor who specializes in race, ethnicity, and immigration, and Dr. Albert Ponce, a political science professor and the co-director of the Social Justice Studies.

Given all the crises the country is facing, the professors said, it’s never been a more important time for students to go out to the polls and cast their votes.

“There is no neutrality,” said Ponce. “If you sit this one out, you’ve condemned yourself to the order that will exist after November.”

With the primaries underway and the presidential election around the corner in November, Niyogi and Ponce informed students about race, gender, and class issues to consider taking into account when they vote. 

To start the presentation, Niyogi and Ponce introduced two DVC students, Ajanee Toines, a third year sociology major, and international student Uchenna Esomonu, managing editor of The Inquirer, who reinforced the importance of student participation in the elections. 

Particularly impacting students, they said, are social issues like gun violence, immigration rights, and demographic concerns.

“When you don’t vote we are the ones that get punished,” said Toines. “Voting has power and influence over what happens around us.” 

In the discussion, ”Election 2020: Let’s Talk about Race, Gender, and Class!” Niyogi and Ponce lectured using slides and demographic data and opened the debate up to the student audience. 

“We have to fight for this stuff, and we can become complacent,” said Niyogi, addressing social injustices today. 

Ponce meanwhile argued that it’s important students vote for candidates who reflect their social and economic values – not necessarily the candidate mainstream news outlets push on viewers.   

“We’re not endorsing a candidate here but you’re seeing some of the data that the mainstream corporations control 90 percent of what you see,” said Ponce. These media companies have political and economic interests, he added. 

Ponce told students not to be discouraged against voting for candidates who aren’t in the two major parties. 

“It is about hope,” he said. “There is a possibility that mass is growing. That’s a movement.” 

The event was broadcast and can be viewed on DVC’s Ustream page.