A Polling Place sign sits out side the Dairy Barn polling location in Athens on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2022. Photo by Ryan Grzybowksi

A Polling Place sign sits out side the Dairy Barn polling location in Athens on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2022. Photo by Ryan Grzybowksi.

Campaigning clubs

Published November 2, 2023

Campaigning clubs

OU College Democrats and Republicans encourage political participation from students

By Carly DeLuca | For The Post

Nov. 7, 2023, adults who are registered to vote in Ohio will cast their ballots in the 2023 general election. With the election quickly approaching, many Ohio University students turn to political organizations for guidance on registering to vote, where to vote and what topics are in the election. Two of these widespread political organizations are the OU College Democrats and OU College Republicans.

OU College Democrats is a student-run group that educates community members on Democratic issues and reaches out to elected officials to generate liberal change.

Julianna Rittenberg, a junior studying political science, is the president of OU College Democrats. As president, she focuses mainly on getting students involved in local politics and making sure they are educated on the upcoming candidates.

“Mostly, we just try to educate the student population about different issues and candidates that are on the ballot (and) we do a lot of voter registration work,” Rittenberg said.

To gear up for the election, OU College Democrats works with the Athens County Democratic Party to encourage students to register to vote and create volunteer opportunities for everyone in the community. The Athens County Democratic Party has similar goals to OU College Democrats; according to their website, they seek to promote political participation in Athens and educate the community on relevant democratic issues. Since OU College Democrats’ main audience is OU students, the two organizations work together to reach a broader network of people, especially in the weeks leading up to an election.

“(The Athens County) Democratic Party recently switched who the chair of the party was, and the new chair’s working a lot to make sure that students are as involved as possible,” Rittenberg said.

Spreading the word and encouraging young people to vote is one of OU College Democrats’ main focuses. The upcoming election is potentially the first time that many college students are voting, and OU College Democrats aim to spread information on how to vote and why voting is so important.

“My biggest thing is always to urge people like your friends or family to vote (and) just vote in general, not even which side to vote on,” said Sean Slatzer, a sophomore studying applied plant biology and the communications director for OU College Democrats.

Another prominent political group at OU is the OU College Republicans, a club that works to promote conservative ideals and elect officials that will represent members’ beliefs.

The president of OU College Republicans is Tyce Patt, a fifth-year student studying marketing and business. He focuses on bringing together people who have a wide range of viewpoints to create productive change on a local and nationwide level.

“I think most past and current club members would agree that our primary function as a club is creating a grass-roots community of people interested in helping America become a better country for everyone,” Patt wrote in an email.

To prepare for the election, OU College Republicans provides numerous opportunities for its members to become politically active. The organization offers different activities for varying viewpoints so members can pick which specific issues or politicians they want to support.

Additionally, the large alumni network works with OU College Republicans to encourage students to vote by holding meetings where local and state politicians converse with students.

“We have found the best way we reach students is not anything flashy like giant signs or large demonstrations, but simply word of mouth,” Patt wrote in an email. “We are constantly having networking events big and small where people come and simply have civil conversations.”

For the upcoming election, OU College Republicans aims to educate students on both sides of the two issues so they can make informed decisions when they vote.

“For the upcoming special election, we have held multiple discussions about both Issues 1 and 2 to help people figure out how they want to vote,” Patt wrote in an email. “As a club, it is rare for us to endorse or tell the club to vote a certain way as usually we have club members on both sides of each issue.”

Both OU College Democrats and OU College Republicans seek to educate students in preparation for the election. Despite a difference in political affiliation, both groups advocate for voter participation, especially among college students.

AUTHOR: Carly DeLuca

EDITOR: Alyssa Cruz

COPY EDITOR: Ashley Pomplas

PHOTOGRAPHY: Ryan Grzybowksi