By Jordan Schroeer
Turn on the TV or walk down the street and it’s obvious an election is coming up. Commercial breaks are filled with people in suits or khaki pants telling voters how the other candidate hates puppies and grandmas.
Lawns are dotted with a spectrum of blues and reds with names like Franken or McFadden proudly displayed. Meanwhile, cars are adorned with bumper stickers for those truly sticking to a candidate.
Some of the students on campus would rather do homework than talk about an upcoming election, but some organizations on campus see this as a time to bring people together, unite around a common cause, and work for change.
“You need to make a decision on where you are and where you want the country to go,” Clay Schwartzwalter, President of MSUM College Democrats said.
He wants students to understand the “real effects voting and politics play in everyday life.”
While Schwartzwalter advocates for democratic policies, he says the group is not a “purely partisan just rank and file group.”
Schwartzwalter urges students to get involved with College Democrats.
“With the DFL (Democrat-Farmer-Labor party), education spending increased and tuition was frozen,” he said.
He points to education costs as the main reason students should vote for democratic candidates.
“The governor and senator are up for election and could be replaced by people who want to do the reverse,” Schwartzwalter said of education funding.
Republicans of Clay County chair Kate Engstrom also urges students to get involved in the election.
“People want to be allowed to live their lives the way they want to live it,” she said. “It’s a chance to have your voice heard, influence the world in a positive way,” Engstrom said. “We need to worry about what’s happening in the future.”
Conservative students on MSUM’s campus don’t have any student organization that represents their interests directly.
“College Republicans officially went defunct Nov. 25, 2013,” Steve Fox, Leadership and Organizations interim assistant director at MSUM said.
“The president was a senior. It didn’t have a strong following, so it stopped,” Nate LaCombe, Concordia College Republicans president said of MSUM’s former College Republicans.
LaCombe wants to change that. “If a group of people wanted to get together and share in beliefs, we have the resources,” he said. LaCombe wants an MSUM College Republicans group to “promote values,” adding, “It’s not your dad’s Republican party.”
In order for a College Republicans group to start, five MSUM students would need to come together and find a faculty or staff member to be an advisor. Then, the students would need to follow the seven-step recognition process outlined on the Office of Student Activities website.
Whether it’s for Democrat or Republican candidates, both sides agree students should get involved and think about the country’s direction.
“The more the issues are talked about, the better understanding of the issues,” Engstrom said.
The Minnesota State University Students Association (MSUSA) is also working to get out the vote among students. Organization representatives have tabled in the CMU, helping students get registered to vote.
“Getting as many MSUM students to vote is necessary if we want politicians to listen to student issues like the rising cost of tuition,” Yannis Tomko, MSUSA campus organizer said in an email to MSUM staff.
Tomko also asked professors if a representative from the organization can come into classes and help students register to vote while explaining the importance of participating in the democratic process.
Whether it’s voting on tuition costs, reproductive rights, or privacy, students at MSUM and across the country have the right to express their concerns at the polling place. Schwaltzwater wants students to know their votes can make a difference.
“Voting in these elections has a direction connection,” he said.
To get involved in College Democrats, contact Clay Schwartzlwater at firstname.lastname@example.org. If interested in starting MSUM College Republicans, contact Nate LaCombe at email@example.com. To get involved in the Minnesota State University Students Association, contact Yannis Tomko at firstname.lastname@example.org.