By Thomas Henbest, Will Kramps, Brock Mackinnis, & Elsie McElroy
Balance is returning to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus as the College Democrats student organization is making its long-awaited return after two years of inactivity.
According to Professor Jon Shelton, who has been the academic advisor for College Dems since 2017/2018, the student organization had “…played a really vital role in educating their peers in the campus.” Shelton said that in the 2016 election cycle, the College Dems had helped spread awareness about Democratic political candidates, particularly in the primaries. They had also hosted political visits, such as bringing Senator Tammy Baldwin to campus. Even during the height of COVID-19, College Dems had a meeting with Democratic candidate Kristin Lyerly for District 88th back in 2020. However, College Dems’ presence on campus diminished as 2020 continued.
Carlyn Lowe, one of the co-chairs of the recently reformed College Dems, explained the reasons why College Dems went inactive. “The pandemic was probably one of the main reasons because we lost a lot of members when [COVID-19] hit.” Like most organizations, the lack of being able to meet in a central location and actively participate in in-person events destroyed the ability to appeal to new members and maintain the old ones. Both Lowe and Shelton also mentioned that when the pandemic hit, College Dems was also going through leadership changes. This, intermixing with the weight of pandemic restrictions, led to the group slowly stagnating into inactivity for the past two years.
Now, College Dems has resurfaced into action in the student organizations. The organization is “trying to make UW-Green Bay feel like a more inclusive and equitable campus,” according to Lowe.
The UWGB’s College Republicans have remained active throughout the past two years and have continued to share their beliefs with UWGB students. College Republican Advisor Professor David Helpap said, “It also is important to have balance, with a range of different political perspectives represented. Several years ago, the College Democrats were quite a bit more active and involved than the College Republicans.”
Similarly, Professor Shelton stated that he views that both College Dems and College Republicans both serve important roles in “making sure that students know about electoral politics…” as well as giving the student population the ability to access all types of political views.
Current plans for the College Dems include having a table in the Union during the week of March 21st to March 25th, hoping to attract new members. One of the biggest goals for the reborn group is to gain traction and bring more students into its ranks. “… It’s really hard to do things right now because we simply don’t have the manpower to do the things we want to,” Lowe explained.
Chief among the things that College Dems plans on doing in the future is bringing local and state politicians to the university. Lowe said, “Not only does it make students more politically aware by having people come and talk on campus, but it also lets the candidates… engage with us.” Furthermore, the group’s co-chair also elaborated that they would seek out voices that could explain the current situation and the issues of certain bills, such as “Don’t Say Gay,” and Critical Race bills that are passing around the nation. This would help educate the student population on the importance of these topics and highlight the critical nature of voting.
As the Wisconsin local election in April comes closer, the College Dems’ highly recommend that students should go to www.myvote.wi.gov. The website will tell users who are on the ballots, where one can register and vote, and help users obtain and submit absentee ballots.
One way to contact the UW-Green Bay College Dems is through their social media. Otherwise, another avenue is reaching out to the official email of College Dems’email@example.com.
Likewise, one can easily reach UWGB campus’ College Republicans through their various social media platforms. The College Republicans’ official email address as firstname.lastname@example.org.