By Kayla Tucker – A&E/Features Editor
As elections near, the pressure to be politically involved is increased. Some want to discuss ideas and opinions, some just want to figure out where they stand politically. At Grand Rapids Community College, students are offered opportunities to have a voice and share what they believe. The College Democrats and Republicans were founded out of a shared political passion and are doing as much as they can to share what they have to say as Election Day approaches.
The College Democrats club took off with a brand new constitution beginning in 2011 after a few years of being dismantled. They hit the ground running with a constitutional objective of promoting the philosophy of the Democratic party on GRCC’s campus.
“Our main purpose this year was to register students to vote, get them aware of who’s running, and why they should vote Democratic in November,” said Daniel Eggerding, College Democrats President who joined the club earlier this year.
“I consider myself a democrat because I believe that people are the most important thing in the world and I believe that every person is equal,” Eggerding said. “Not one person should be valued more than another person…I believe that government is here to help and not hurt…protect and defend… and keep us involved.”
Eggerding said there are no qualifications to join.
“I always let people know that there’s a College Republicans club as well as College Democrats,” said Eggerding, 19.
An average meeting is once a week and the group will discuss current events on all levels global, national, state, and local, how to be more involved politically with GRCC students, as well as how to go about getting students interested in voting by telling them who they should vote for and why.
Last year the College Democrats were able to meet former president Bill Clinton, Democratic candidate Mark Schauer, and Democratic Representative Gary Peters. The club recently paired up with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, a progressive environmentalist group, where they knocked door-to-door informing people about this year’s progressive candidates, specifically Gary Peters.
“It’s our duty as citizens to be educated about the candidates and to help choose the best one whether that is voting, making campaign contributions…or volunteering,” said Lydia Garner, 18, College Democrats Treasurer.
For the upcoming elections the College Democrats have been in contact with the Democratic candidates and their main focus is to get them elected.
“We’re excited,” Eggerding said. “It’s going to be a very close race. We’re hoping to turn Michigan blue.”
Meetings for the College Democrats are Thursdays from 5 p.m. through 6 p.m. in the White Hall Reading Room at Sneden Hall.
The other political group on campus is the College Republicans. The group began in the 1980’s with the purpose of spreading the conservative message on campus. Alex Suli is the current club President.
“I believe everyone has their own personal responsibility,” Suli said on why he identifies as a Republican. “I believe that government should be very limited…that the Constitution of the United States is a great document that should be upheld by every politician. I believe in a free market.”
Suli said anyone is qualified to join, even in your beliefs range across the political spectrum.
“We, contrary to popular belief, do not discriminate against anyone,” Suli said. “The only qualification required is that they be willing to show up with an open mind and a willingness to listen to what we have to say before making judgement.”
At a meeting the group will discuss current events on all levels global, national, state, and local and how issues should be handled. They also encourage gaining experience in the field of politics by inviting speakers to their meetings such as representatives from the Michigan Republican Party or leaders of other College Democrat groups.
Cody Kwiatkowski, 18, became a member of the College Republicans at the beginning of the year, and is contemplating going into politics. He feels the club is exciting and he doesn’t regret joining because of the experience he has gained.
“I get to have my voice be heard,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s actually a great way for me to meet people who…think the same way (as me).”
For the upcoming elections the College Republicans are proudly supporting Governor Rick Snyder, Terri Lynn Land for US Senate, Justin Amash for 63rd District Representative, and Brent Boncher for the 63rd District Court Judge.
“It’s going to be a tough and very close race this election cycle,” Suli said. “All we can do is volunteer our time, spread the word, and pray for the best.”
The College Republicans meet every first and third Monday of the month at 5 p.m. in the Raider Grille for around an hour.
Find the College Democrats and Republicans on Facebook, Twitter, and OrgSync.
The upcoming bipartisan Civil Discourse event on Oct. 27, 6 p.m. in the Sneden Hall Multi-Purpose Room will bring together anyone from all over the political spectrum to come discuss current issues with other people ranging in beliefs. The goal is for students to develop an understanding of other political views, solidify their own political beliefs, and learn how they can solve problems facing our state and nation.