Campus clubs prepare for 2016 election
As the 2016 presidential election draws closer, Western students and clubs are pushing students to vote and get involved.
During AS club Western Votes’ annual campus voter registration drive, Western set the record in Washington state for the most students registered to vote in one day both this year and the previous, said Rachael Belisle, the organization and outreach coordinator for the Associated Students Representation and Engagement Programs.
“In a day, we registered 900 students,” Belisle said, comparing it to last year’s number of 737. “We’re just trying to make sure we can push toward our goal of 3,000 which would be an ultimate record. But we’ve already set all the records in Washington state.”
In addition to the AS encouraging voter engagement, Western is home to nine political clubs on campus. Among those clubs are Young Americans for Liberty, WWU Students for Hillary and Western Democrats.
President of Young Americans for Liberty, Sean Rita, said that the club has several events planned for the school year, including a political debate and an event called Incarceration Nation, which will address the issue of overpopulation of prison systems.
Young Americans for Liberty is a political club that supports the discussion of politics but does not endorse specific candidates, Rita said.
Western Libertarians is another political club on campus that promotes student engagement and discussion without endorsing any specific candidate, president Katrina Haffner said.
“Something we talk about concerning the presidential election is not only the candidates, but the different legislation that’s brought to light because people are more interested in the elections,” Haffner said. “We’re hoping that the recreational legalization of marijuana will become an even hotter topic.”
The club is hosting an event with the organization Liberty in North Korea to talk about the relationship between the North Korean government and its citizens on Monday, Nov. 9.
Junior Hanna Hupp is excited for the upcoming election and has been enjoying watching the candidates turn out.
“At first I was definitely a huge Hillary supporter,” Hupp said. “But now I’m pretty into Bernie. I have a little pin for him: ‘Feel the Bern.’ I just think he’s been so consistent in his views and what he’s advocated for.”
Adam Schaefer, chair of Western Democrats, is also interested in Bernie Sanders, but is waiting until the debates to hear what each candidate has to say when challenged about the issues.
Western Democrats is planning on holding a local community forum and potentially hosting a debate viewing party on campus for the first Democratic primary debate on Oct. 13.
Schaefer said he believes that among Western Democrats, the majority of members are leaning toward Sanders.
“It’s almost trendy to like Bernie Sanders,” Schaefer said.
Despite Sanders’ surge in popularity, there remain supporters who aren’t optimistic about his chances.
“Some of the things he does want to do goes against a lot of mainstream Democrats and Republicans and the legislature,” said Zachary Dove, AS Vice President for Academic Affairs.
There’s also a political dynasty occurring with Clinton and Bush, said Dove. “It could potentially end up being a Clinton vs. Bush election.”
According to The New York Times, there are currently six candidates running for the Democratic Party and 15 candidates running for the Republican Party.
Monday, Oct. 5, is the last day to register to vote in the general election either online or by mail.