Student Political Groups Prepare for Presidential Election

As the country prepares for the presidential election in November, the College Republicans and Young Democrats have started planning their own events to engage Emory students politically and to spread awareness about the candidates and their platforms.

Both groups have endorsed a candidate — the College Republicans support Republican candidate Mitt Romney and the Young Democrats support the Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama — and will host several events such as campaign events for their respective candidates, voter registration drives and guest speakers to rally students and increase political awareness within the Emory community.

College senior Nick Going, chairman of the College Republicans, said that the executive board has been working to collaborate with the Georgia Association of College Republicans and student groups from neighboring institutions.

Together, he said, they plan to take weekend campaign trips around Atlanta and neighboring states as well as organize debate viewing parties. The purpose of the events, Going said, is to hold informal political events to spread awareness of Republican ideals on campus.

Meanwhile, to increase political awareness on campus, the Young Democrats plan to focus on voter registration by partnering with the Young Democrats of Georgia and Obama for America, according to Young Democrats co-president and College senior Alexander Blumberg. According to Blumberg, the Young Dems have registered about 200 students to vote during drives they have held during the past year.

The Young Democrats has additionally planned mock presidential debates with the College Republicans as well as Emory’s debate team, the Barkley Forum. They will also host presidential debate viewings followed by panel discussions that will include Emory political science professors and guest speakers, Blumberg said.

The College Republicans endorse Romney as their favored presidential candidate because of their belief in his fundamental conservative ideals and plan to resolve America’s economic troubles, Going said.

Luke Bucson, the communications director of the College Republicans, said he feels that Romney’s business experience is a useful asset in managing government spending, reforming entitlement programs and giving the government and the private sector confidence to start investing money again.

“Romney is the candidate we have chosen to endorse because of his emphasis on freedom, American exceptionalism and personal responsibility,” Going said.

However, due to the diversity of the Emory student body’s political beliefs, the College Republicans as a group support Romney’s fiscal policies but not necessarily his social policies, Going added.

The Young Democrats endorse incumbent Barack Obama as their candidate because of his stances on social issues such as gay rights and abortion, Co-President College senior Jonathan Katzner said.
He said one of the Young Dems’ main goals is to properly display Obama’s liberal platform to the Emory community.

The Young Democrats fundamentally disagree with the conservative ideals that Romney represents, Blumberg said.

“If you’re within 98 percent of the American population, Obama’s policies will do far more for you, and he will be the better choice,” Blumberg said. “Obama will help more people with his stances on civil liberties, social issues and economic policies.”

Going explained that he hopes that through the efforts of the College Republicans, Emory will become more open-minded to different political mindsets.

“I would like to see more Emory students engaging in political discussions and participating in the peaceful exchange of ideas,” he said. “Everyone should be free to express their opinions and have others respect them.”

Bucson said that he hopes College Republicans will present opportunities to politically undecided students that would allow them to hear all sides of political arguments and empower them to make an informed decision on who to vote for.

“We want to really open up the election to students and give them a chance to be exposed to conservative ideas on both a local and national level,” he said.

Nonetheless, the co-presidents of Young Democrats added that their ultimate goal is to spark more political discourse on campus and increase the number of students who vote, regardless of who they might choose on the ballot.

“We want to encourage civic engagement,” Katzner said. “No matter anyone’s political affiliation, it’s important to provide a forum for students to get as politically active as they can be or want to be.”

— By Anusha Ravi