AUBURN, Ala. – With the upcoming presidential election in 2016, Auburn students have seen an exciting opportunity for involvement on campus. The Auburn University chapters of the College Democrats and College Republicans have been busy as they made preparations for the Alabama primary election.
“Members have attended phone banks, canvassing, and volunteered with the campaign of their choice. We have travelled to various campaign rallies. Some as close as Montgomery and the farthest being Savannah, Ga. ,” said Calvin Wilborn, president of the Auburn University College Democrats. “We have hosted registration drives with other political clubs on campus and hosted forums on the democratic candidates and provided information about their platforms.”
Leading up to the primary election, members within the College Democrats and College Republicans organizations have represented the different candidates running to be nominated for the general election in their respective parties.
“We partnered up with SGA, the Young Americans for Liberty, the College Democrats, and a service sorority to have a voter registration drive that proved to be extremely successful,” said Cole Davis, vice-chairman for the Auburn University College Republicans, “We also recently held a mock debate or caucus where students represented the presidential candidates and educated the attendees on what their candidate stood for.”
“Although polarizing issues cause differences in opinion especially when regarding candidates, they usually don’t have lasting effects on the club,” said Wilborn. “It’s hard for differences in opinion on candidates to cause great divides.”
Presidential candidates have made visits to Alabama along their campaign trail to garner votes. Auburn students have been given exciting opportunities to get involved with the campaigns on a more personal level.
“Senator Sanders made a visit over the Martin Luther King weekend in late January. Secretary Clinton and President Clinton both made separate visits to Alabama on Saturday, February 27 to make a last push for votes,” said Wilborn. “Members of Auburn College Democrats attended all three campaign stops and even had the opportunity to stand on stage behind Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders during their visit.”
Until the nominees for the parties are announced, the AUCR and AUCD spend their time raising awareness and encouraging voter turnout without supporting a specific candidate running for president.
“We encourage members to support whichever Republican candidate they like,” said Davis.
Even during a year without a major election, the College Republicans and Democrats stay busy with events to engage students with political affairs. Weekly meetings and special events keep both clubs involved all year. Through outreach events like the College Democrats’ Lemonade and Legislature event, the club invites students to engage in politics by listening to a presentation by a state legislator. Similarly, the College Republicans invited Secretary of State John Merrill to one of their meetings to discuss what he does for the state of Alabama.
Regardless of party affiliation, or lack thereof, students can find many ways to increase their political knowledge and involvement on campus during an election year or any year.