The Daily Gamecock

Campus organizations foster political involvement, action

When it comes to political ideologies, students have several clubs to choose from to expand their knowledge and involvement in politics on campus.

Maddie Propp, a third-year political science student and president of the USC College Republicans, said the group acts as an easy way for collegiate Republicans to gather to discuss current events.

“Our goal is to just spread the Republican message and kind of just reach out to other people and make sure people want to be voting and encourage people to vote for whatever they believe in,” Propp said.

Jackson Nietert, a third-year international business and accounting student and president of the USC College Democrats, said his organization’s goal for the year is to help "increase youth turnout in the election and increase voter registration."

“We exist, as an organization, to be a place for Democrats on campus to gather, for people to get politically engaged and involved,” Nietert said.

Those who feel their political ideals don't match those of either of these groups have other options. 

Ethan Magnuson, a fourth-year geography and political science student and a member of the USC College Socialists, said the group’s democratic beliefs influence its “horizontal” structure and very few members hold “formal titles.”

Magnuson said the organization, formerly called the Young Democratic Socialists, plans to provide opportunities for students who might feel "disappointed with the Biden campaign and are interested in doing some action."

“There are plenty of ways to make real change, like forming unions and things like that, that can happen outside of just voting in Ticket A or Ticket B,” Magnuson said. 

Third-year economics, mathematics and statistics student John Ryan is the president of the USC College Libertarians, who “believe in promoting liberty, smaller government, free market [and] individual liberty.” 

Ryan said the group is interested in the Libertarian Party’s 2020 presidential candidate, Jo Jorgensen, and "want to get the word out about her."

Besides weekly meetings, the College Libertarians participate in activism events such as voter registration drives and group presentations on the Pickens Street Bridge. While they might not be able to maintain their normal routine this fall, Ryan said he wants to keep their operations as regular as possible. 

“We plan on continuing to have weekly meetings. Those might be virtual," Ryan said. "But, you know, that’s something that we still plan on doing, and we still plan to provide a platform for people who might not fit in with — what I believe to be the plurality of people that don’t fit in with the two major parties."

The College Socialists also regularly hold events, such as helping organize the campus union that was officially formed over the summer and going on camping trips together.

“One of the most important things about a college club is not just — even if it is a political club, it shouldn’t just be about talking about politics every single day. You have to build a sense of camaraderie,” Magnuson said. 

Magnuson said the College Socialists are "planning to operate as normal" in the fall, but their proceedings are “subject to change.”

Nietert said the College Democrats regularly watch and discuss political debates together and will continue to do so this fall, either in-person or virtually.

Though these groups have contrasting beliefs, they often interact with one another. The College Democrats and College Republicans occasionally hold joint meetings and put on an annual political debate called Carolina Clash. 

“We do a lot with the College Dems, in terms of discussing with them. It’s really important for us to get different points of view,” Propp said.

During Carolina Clash, last held in October 2019, the organizations discuss two national policies, one state policy and one campus policy.

“One thing we like to show is that it is possible to find or to come to an agreement. You may not think so, but it is. We often come to agreements on issues relating to USC or even sometimes relating to the state,” Nietert said. "We really like to show our members that it’s possible."

Propp said she and Nietert are working together to decide how Carolina Clash will be held this year in correspondence with social distancing guidelines.

Both groups also provide opportunities for political internships and volunteer positions. Nietert said the College Democrats often work with the Richland County Democratic Party and the South Carolina Democratic Party.

Each of these organizations is available for contact through Garnet Gate and social media. The organizations encourage every student, regardless of their political ideology, to exercise their right to vote. 

“Oftentimes, it’s easy to think that, 'This doesn’t affect me,' or, 'There’s so many other people voting, my voice doesn’t matter.' But, I mean, in reality that’s not the case,” Nietert said.


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