Student organizations promote political awareness
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
With elections coming up in November, the university political groups—the University Democrats and College Republicans—are staying active in order to impact young voter turnout.
The University Democrats are working closely with the democratic campaigns of Democratic congressional candidate Beto O’Rourke and Joe Moody, Democratic candidate for State Representative, as well with the local branch of Organizing for America, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
“We are going to serve as the bridge between politicians and students,” said Christopher Hinojos, University Democrats treasurer.
The College Republicans are also going to work alongside local republican campaigns of Dee Margo, candidate for State Representative, and Charlie Garza, District 1 State Board of Education representative, helping them with social media and block walking with the representatives.
“Even as simple as wearing a campaign shirt, we will provide them with our support,” said Lorenzo Villa, chairman of the College Republicans.
According to Hinojos, the University Democrats plan to collaborate with the College Republicans in an attempt to host a debate between local politicians, Moody and Margo, where local issues would be addressed.
“Our main concern is to inform the students of the platforms in which the local politicians stand,” Villa said. The details on the debate are still unofficial.
Shane Garcia, junior public health major, does not follow local politics but agrees that a debate between the candidates is a great opportunity to hear about their platforms.
“Debates are important,” Garcia said. “It allows the politicians to discuss where they stand, to question their opponents and to defend their views.”
The University Democrats are also registering students to vote by setting up registration drives at the Union Breezeway. They are also informing students about political issues and the democratic candidates.
“The only way to ensure change is to know who we are electing,” Hinojos said. “As disillusioned as one might get about politics, it is important to know who is being elected and what the issues are.”
Juan Gonzales, a freshman mechanical engineering major, was not registered to vote but took advantage of the registration drive. “I was too young last elections to vote but now I am registered and will be voting,” Gonzales said.
The College Republicans raised a memorial for the victims of 9/11 on the Geology Lawn on its 11th anniversary and were out on Constitution Day, informing students about their constitutional rights. This semester, Villa plans to take a different approach with the College Republicans. The term he holds is only a semester long and he expects to use the time trying to build a solid foundation for the organization. “We are going to focus on numbers,” Villa said. “A lot of our supporters have graduated so we do not have a mass number of members, that is why this semester we are going to focus on recruitment.” The College Republicans have launched a Facebook page and will be tabling throughout the semester to recruit new students.
“We encourage students to come and ask us questions about the Republican platform and its candidates,” Villa said. “What we want is to help students understand where the Republicans stand on issues directly affecting them.”
Both the Republican and Democrat groups are aware of the expected low voter turnouts, that is why they are inviting students to attend their meetings and listen to what each political group has to address.
“Students are welcome to come by and sit in on our meetings,” Hinojos said. “They can make a decision on where they stand on their own. We just want them to get involved.”
The University Democrats hold their meetings at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Union East Building River View Room 102H. The College Republicans meet at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays in the Union East Building Ray Room 309.
“It doesn’t matter if students vote Democratic or Republican, what is important is that they go out and vote,” Villa said. “Students need to get involved—they are the future of this country.”
Guerrero Garcia may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.