Election Day is quickly approaching on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and student organizations on Drexel University’s campus are preparing voters to go to the polls.
Drexel Democrats President, Aidan Cotton, a third year materials science and engineering major with a minor in political science, described how the organization is interacting with the Drexel community. Vice President of Drexel University College Republicans (DUCR), Jason Check, is a third year finance and legal studies major and politics minor. Check explained how DUCR wishes to strengthen its presence and reputation on campus.
Both Drexel Dems and DUCR are organizations whose purpose is to promote open political discussion and involvement in the community.
“For any university to succeed, there must be a free flow of ideas, including ones you agree with and ones that go against everything for which you stand for,” Check wrote in an email.
As an organization, Drexel Dems acts as “a united front” in support of candidates voted in by the Democratic Party, according to Cotton. Specifically, Drexel Dems supports Josh Shapiro, the candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, and John Fetterman, who is running for Pennsylvania’s Senator.
According to Check, “The overarching mission of DUCR is to ensure conservative values are defended at Drexel and in America.”
While there is a preference for conservative candidates, the organization does not officially endorse candidates and does not want to “engage in any activity to force members to like one candidate over another,” Check said. “Put simply, we lay out all of the facts, and let our members and the Drexel community decide for themselves,” he continued. Personally, Check supports Doug Mastriano for Pennsylvania governor and Dr. Mehmet Oz for US Senator. Check elaborated on his choices by emphasizing the need for political candidates to be consistent with policy positions.
Leading up to the election, Drexel Dems focused on registering all students to vote before the Pennsylvania registration deadline on Oct. 24. On the move-in days for Drexel, University of Pennsylvania, and Temple, the club held registration events for students arriving on campus.
“In Pennsylvania, even if you’re moving from out of state…if you’re living here for a couple of months, you can register to vote,” Cotton explained.
After the registration deadline, Drexel Dems “shifted into a ‘Get out to vote’ plan,” Cotton said.
Drexel Dems plans to have a “Dorm Storming” event on Nov 6. According to Cotton, small groups of students will knock “door-to-door in each dorm” to inform students of their polling location and help them solidify their plan to go out and vote. Additionally, they plan to “Chalk the walk,” in which they draw arrows and enticing graphics on the sidewalk to guide people where to vote, such as the Daskalakis Athletic Center, Cotton explained.
After the election, Drexel Dems wants to expand its efforts by hosting fundraisers and more social community-based events, working with local restaurants, UPenn and Temple. Specifically, Cotton expressed the desire to collaborate with DUCR on events like their first debate held on Oct. 20 on Lancaster Walk. Check also disclosed plans for DUCR to organize similar events, particularly to encourage political dialogue.
“The discussion was interesting, to say the least,” Check said. “Both sides of the most important issues [for] likely voters were discussed academically thus providing insight into the views of the opposing student group.”
“I was shocked to see the turnout,” Cotton said. He continued by saying it was “Very, very encouraging to see people just willing to stand there and just hear out both sides. I thought that was wonderful.”
DUCR hosts weekly meetings to “discuss important political conversations, current events, and policy decisions,” Check said. In the future, DUCR plans to “hold both Republicans and Democrats accountable.”
“Unfortunately, DUCR rarely interacts openly with the Drexel community,” Check stated.
He strongly wishes to promote the club to combat the problem of “the treatment of conservatives on campus,” Check said. He continued to claim, “Drexel is not an encompassing place that wants to hear all political viewpoints.”
In a statement sent out to the university community on Oct. 5, President John Fry informed students and staff that the university will be closing on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 2p.m. for elections.
While classes are not canceled, “faculty are encouraged to be flexible when possible and supportive of students who may be working the polls,” President Fry said.
The letter further acknowledges the Undergraduate Student Government Association’s push in encouraging the university to close early “in an effort to combat low voter turnout.”
According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement from the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education at Tufts University, national college student voter turnout was approximately 40.3 percent for the 2018 midterm election.
Cotton said this percentage was “Not as high as we would like it to be.”
“It’s easy to kind of get the feeling that one vote isn’t going to change anything but… the student demographic is one that when we show up to vote in numbers, that is enough to swing an election…” said Cotton. “I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing from people that ‘Oh your vote matters…’ and even if you don’t believe it…what is really the truth is that the student demographic is…a big force to be reckoned with when they all turn out. So keep that in mind come Election Day.”
“No matter what your political leanings are, please vote for whomever you choose,” urged Check. “The only thing worse than voting for someone I oppose is not voting at all. Let your voice be heard. Go vote next week… It is our job as average citizens to hold out elected leaders accountable for their actions.”