With mayoral elections just around the corner, two of Butler University’s political organizations—College Republicans and Butler College Democrats—are working to educate students and the surrounding community about the importance of involvement in local elections.
On Nov. 8, Indianapolis residents decide whether incumbent Republican Greg Ballard or Democrat Melina Kennedy will be mayor of the city, and some Butler students are encouraging the rest of campus to participate in the election however they can.
“We have a problem of apathy on campus with students not recognizing what the impacts of local elections are on their lives,” senior Angela Miller, president of College Democrats, said. “We tend to be trapped within the Butler Bubble.”
Miller has been part of the organization since her freshman year and through her experience said she has seen how what happens locally in Indianapolis affects Butler students more than most of them realize.
Senior Chase Smith, chairman of College Republicans, said he believes there are many benefits to paying attention to local elections.
“Whether you call Indiana your home, or you are just here because you are a part of the Butler community, you are part of this state,” Smith said. “Caring about local elections, be it through volunteering for a campaign or helping in some other way, is one way to give back to this state.”
Election day is quickly approaching and in order to spread the word of the upcoming polls, members of College Republicans and College Democrats have spent time assisting the candidates’ campaigns.
Paige Newman, political director for College Democrats, said she has been involved in several events. Some activities include helping set up voter registration, promoting the debate that took place in Clowes Memorial Hall and attending a roundtable discussion with Kennedy.
“Kennedy took an hour out of her day to meet about 25 to 30 college students at a local high school to discuss issues in the area and how to make people aware of them,” Newman said.
Smith said College Republicans help out with the candidates whenever they can. Members have been volunteering in a series of events called “Operation Red November” that focus on reaching out to both large and small communities.
“With the number of College Republican chapters around the state, we can usually assemble a respectable number of people to do anything from making calls on behalf of candidates to walking door to door,” Smith said.
Butler students are eligible to vote if they are registered at their school address, although voter registration has already closed for the mayoral elections. Hinkle Fieldhouse will house a polling station for all Butler students who are registered to vote along with other residents of the city.