Getting involved with politics on campus
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Getting involved with politics on campus

With the general election getting closer, the political scene at Belmont has been growing. There are many political groups at Belmont, some of them quite new. There is no better time than now to get involved in the political conversation at Belmont through any political student organization.

College Democrats:

Silas Deane, president and founder of College Democrats, said the mantra of every political organization at Belmont when he said, “It’s open for everyone.”

It is apparent all of these groups encourage anyone to come, regardless of the groups’ political emphasis. The underlying force driving all of these organizations is to help students get involved and foster a desire to have an active voice in the community.

College Democrats is new to Belmont. Deane spends a lot of time trying to get speakers, regardless of stance, to come into meetings and speak as a way to get the group off the ground.

“To be able to be a good citizen, you should be aware of both sides,” said Deane. “No matter what side you are on, I feel like the people who come to speak are people you would want to hear from.”

Turning Point USA:

Claire Holden is the president of Turning Point USA, which is a mostly conservative organization. Turning Point is also new to Belmont’s campus.

“We’re not just labeling ourselves Republicans or Democrats; we’re looking at our beliefs first and saying how that corresponds to the modern political spectrum,” she said.

One of the things Turning Point has been taking advantage of during the election season is holding debate watching parties.

“We’ll bring up our own personal views, what we like, what we don’t like and the difference between the candidates. And because we are college-aged—we are becoming adults—I think it’s really important when debating those topics with someone else, you figure out what you really believe and what you really don’t,” Holden said.

Turning Point is also looking to hold debates with other political organizations at Belmont.

“I would like to have our own mach debates so we can begin to practice defending what we really believe,” Holden said.

Political Activism Society:

“Every issue is political,” said Collin Hanley, president and founder of Belmont Political Activism Society. “Belmont parking is political. You can talk to SGA and the leaders of this community and say ‘No, we want the buildings next to MPAC to not be visitor parking because we really don’t need that much visitor parking.’ It’s things like that. You don’t think they’re political but they are.”

Belmont Political Activism Society held its first campus-wide event on Monday– a party with music, food and games at the McWhorter patio.

“The way you would get food is you would write down your three most important issues,” Hanley said.

Those issues will then be talked about during the group’s bi-weekly meetings.

“We will also have slips so you could sign up to register to vote for some of the major states that come to Belmont,” he said.

BPAS is also planning on holding an event in the MPAC in the fall where two members will research the two final politicians running for president and answer questions on their behalf. They will keep a track record of what the politicians have done in the past and predict what he or she will do based on that.

People will line up with questions for one of the mock candidates, and they will answer the best they can according to what they know about each politician and what he or she has done in the past.

“I’m hoping to make it a convo,” Collin said. “Anyone could just come in and ask questions that they want answered.”

Young Americans for Liberty:

Jones Kolbinsky, vice president of Young Americans for Liberty, explains the libertarian view and its role in the organization.

“In libertarianism, people get confused by the political party and the philosophy. And the philosophy behind it is that you should have the freedom to do what you want as long as you don’t impede on any other individuals sovereign rights,” he said.

Right now, Young Americans for Liberty’s main goal is to promote the use of third parties in debate.

“We are really pushing for, currently, if it’s possible as an entire organization, is to perhaps get a third party in on the debate so we don’t have this almost dichotomous repetition of the exact same issues from both sides and you can get a third maybe a bit more sensical voice” Koblinsky said.

Other Ways to Get Involved:

There are other ways to get involved with politics in the Nashville community as well, including helping other students register to vote, seeking out internships with local government organizations or working directly with a candidate’s campaign.

Nora Nalepka, a senior at Belmont, held a phone bank for Bernie Sanders early this February.

“I’ve always been hesitant to talk about politics” she said. “I tend to get anxious at the idea of debating someone on their political beliefs. To help overcome that, I participated in calling people to talk about Bernie, and it really helped me get out of my comfort zone.”

Nalepka had trouble being confident in expressing her beliefs because she thought her voice didn’t matter and feared of possibly sounding uninformed.

“In this day in age, that way of thinking has never been more wrong” she said. “With the advances of social media and the Internet, a single voice has the potential to make a huge difference. I encourage those who think their voices don’t matter to get involved, because their voices matter more today than ever before.”

If you haven’t voted yet or don’t know how to because you aren’t registered in the state of Tennessee, you can vote via the absentee ballot. Go to your state’s website and download the specific absentee ballot form associated with the area or county you live in, fill it out and mail it to the assigned address. Make sure you know when the submission deadline is so you can mail your vote successfully.

This article was written by Max Mason. Photo by Riley Wallace.

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