Maryland students gear up for the primaries

By Bryan Gallion
Staff writer

In light of the upcoming April 26 state primary, many University of Maryland student groups have been active in educating students about the upcoming election and inspiring them to vote.

The College Democrats seek to “promote Democratic activism on campus through community service, special events and grassroots mobilization efforts,” according to its mission statement.

“Whenever I talk to students on campus about issues that matter to them most, I rarely hear people who deny that climate change is real or think that their country shouldn’t do something about it,” said Jake Polce, sophomore government and politics major and College Democrats president.

Since the club doesn’t endorse candidates during the primary, it hosted a “Speaker Circuit” last semester. Students heard various candidates speak from multiple Maryland primary senatorial races. College Democrats also hosted former Attorney General and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler for an April 7 event, giving students behind-the-scenes insight of what running for office entails.

Terps for Bernie seeks to elect Bernie Sanders as president and “advance progressive issues,” according to its mission statement. Terps for Bernie President Chris Walkup said he thinks our generation’s views align with Sander’s viewpoints.

“If we want to see the views we cherish enacted, progress instituted, and our country changed for the better,” Walkup said, “we absolutely have to be involved in and vote in the upcoming election.”

The group co-hosted a watch party for the first Democratic debate with the College Democrats, which over 300 people attended. The Sanders support group debated with Terps for O’Malley and Hillary Clinton supporters at a Maryland Discourse-sponsored event in December.

“Ultimately, we are trying to inspire a positive and hopeful atmosphere in our club that keeps people believing in the revolution and fighting for Bernie,” said Walkup, a junior government and politics and theatre major. “We may not have hundreds of active members, but we have knocked on hundreds of doors, made thousands of phone calls and registered thousands of students to vote.”

The College Republicans say they promote the values of conservatism. The club works in conjunction with the national Republican Party, yet sustains an identity as an independent student group, according to its mission statement.

The organization has hosted several candidates for Maryland seats in the House of Representatives and Congress at their meetings. Club members also participated in a Maryland Discourse-sponsored debate in October regarding the future of the Republican Party.

“I know from personal experience that most students have a negative stereotype of what a Republican is,” College Republicans President Sklyer Golt, a senior environmental science and policy major, said. “Simply talking to people in a civil way about who we are and why we are Republicans can help to show students that we are human too.”

Terps for Trump is a student group organized to back businessman Donald Trump on his quest to win the presidency. The club endorses his proposed policies for national security, immigration and trade.

“Most of our group supports him due to his brashness,” a Terps for Trump campaign member, who asked not to be named, said. “He speaks his mind and has done a lot to advance freedom of speech in the face of the regressive left or politically correct movement.”

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The group’s main advocacy tactic has been chalking on pavement around the campus. Dan Scavino, Trump’s senior adviser and social media manager, tweeted a photo on April 1 of the McKeldin Library Testudo statue sporting a red “Make America Great Again” hat.

Whether a group advocates for a particular party or a certain candidate, they are all making the students on the campus more politically aware.

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