With the upcoming election, many students have become more interested in involvement in politics. VU’s College Republicans are one of the political organizations that students can participate in on campus. According to College Republicans President Andrew Johnson-Levine, the organization’s goal is geared towards furthering that student involvement in campaigns.
“Our goal is, as an organization, to kind of get students involved in campaigns as a whole, obviously, this year [is] a very big election year,” Johnson-Levine said.
Johnson-Levine’s job as President of College Republicans is primarily to facilitate that involvement, however he notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted some of the things they normally would have done in previous years.
“My job is just kind of to facilitate [involvement], reach out to political campaigns, the Republican Party, either at the state or the local level,” Johnson-Levine said. “It's been pretty difficult this year, just with the condensed schedule has not left me a ton of time. And then with some COVID restrictions on stuff like door to door campaigning hasn't been a thing we've been able to do. And that's been our biggest thing in years past is getting people out, knocking on doors, engaging with people, that's really the best way to do that.”
Instead, College Republicans have been doing some things over the phone and has kept gatherings to a minimum.
“We don't want a political campaign to be what causes an outbreak or something on campus,” Johnson-Levine said.
College Republicans is still continuing some events in the community, and they recently partnered with the Porter County GOP for a rally downtown.
“I was there to volunteer to help kind of organize everything,” Johnson-Levine said. “We kind of had a car parade go through the town to go down there, which was pretty fun...We had a great turnout there. So I think despite everything kind of restricting us this year, we've made our presence in the community.”
The event included politicians from Ind., including local speakers.
“It was just kind of a political gathering. We had the candidate for attorney general from Indiana, Todd Rokita, come and give a speech on that,” Johnson-Levine said. “And then we had various local candidates, some of the local judges who are campaigning to represent Porter County. We had Ed Charbonneau, who's our state senator for Valpo. He's running for re-election. So he was there to give information to voters who wanted it.”
To get informed about the election, Johnson-Levine suggests looking at a website run by the Indiana Secretary of State. Here, you can input your voting precinct and see everything that will be on your ballot. Johnson-Levine also notes the importance of looking into local candidates that impact the lives of people in the community.
This year, we have a number of judges in Porter County up [and] we have some city council members up for those voting in the city of Valpo. Bigger ticket races, like the presidential race, are what gets the most attention, [but] those down ballot races...the State House, the State Senate, the local county level stuff, that's where the biggest impacts in people's lives come from. It's a little backwards in that way,” Johnson-Levine said. “But that's where the biggest impacts are going to be felt in people's lives.”
Interested voters can often find information on local candidates online.
“So being able to go online, type in candidates' names, they all have websites nowadays, and just doing your own research coming up with your own personal opinions on each of the candidates. That's what I would recommend,” Johnson-Levine said.
Students interested in joining College Republicans can email Johnson-Levine or email@example.com. Going into next semester, the organization hopes to be able to table in the Union again, depending on the restrictions from the pandemic.
“I would say for students getting involved... if politics is something that's of interest to you just kind of be open to be open to anything,” Johnson-Levine said. “It wasn't something I expected to get into when I first came here. I think back in high school, I didn't have a huge interest in politics, but it's kind of something that just grew on me over time.”