Polinav, a new app that allows college students to better engage in campus politics, announced its upcoming partnership with the Undergraduate Student Government at the “Politics Meets Tech” event, hosted in partnership with USC’s Political Student Assembly Monday evening in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
The initiative will allow students to submit their opinions on new programs, contact their USG representatives, register to vote and consider issues such as tuition, mental health and fall break.
“I have definitely seen political apathy on campus during my time here, and we need to meet our students where they are at,” said USG President Edwin Saucedo. “One way to do that is to help students be engaged by using their phones.”
USC is the first campus to launch Polinav, with future launches planned at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and Georgetown University. Cliff Kang, one of Polinav’s founders, said that his motivation to create the app was to make politics more accessible for everyday people.
“My personal mission was to serve the marginalized, but what I realized is that in politics, in a sense everyone is marginalized, [because] people’s voices get subverted by those who give money,” Kang said. “Our goal is to get enough people to care [about politics] — then politicians have to listen to us, because that’s how democracy works.”
Along with information on USG, Polinav provides users with brief summaries of pieces of legislation in national, state and local politics, as well as potential reasons someone would be for or against each bill. The app also includes ways to contact local representatives.
“[For college students], this is much more local and will affect your life in a very real way,” Kang said.
Polinav invited several other organizations to present how they are using technology to address political issues at Monday’s event. Luis Rivera, the South Los Angeles area representative for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, spoke about how the City of Los Angeles is implementing the MyLA311 mobile app to allow residents to report issues like sanitation, potholes and graffiti removal on their phones.
“[The app] is a way for us to put the power of the city in the palm of your hands, and really allows people to take action,” Rivera said.
Rivera also presented a Certificate of Recognition from the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, which recognized the efforts of Polinav, PSA and USG to increase civic engagement on campus.
Several other organizations introduced their new apps at the event, including BallotView, which simplifies ballot measures and is set to launch later this fall, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Mobile Justice, which allows people to record police interactions to send to the ACLU, and the civic media organization Voto Latino’s voter registration app.
Toward the end of the event, a representative from the Pasadena Angels investing group discussed how angel investing works for start-up ideas, and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk introduced a redesigned voting machine and gave voting tips for students.
The Polinav + USG app will be available next week.