UWO political parties discuss why students should care

William Fath

One of the biggest issues both organizations are forced to deal with is student apathy and during the 2014 election cycle, according to Civil Youth, only an estimated 21.5 percent of college-aged citizens voted. Student apathy is an issue that both College Democrats and College Republicans are hoping to improve upon. Sasha Novak, Oshkosh Student Association Rep. for the College Democrats said plans have been made to make UWO become a more influential campus throughout Wisconsin for the Democratic Party. Novak said the College Democrats of Wisconsin Convention was helpful because it allowed the Oshkosh chapter for College Democrats to network with other colleges across the state. Novak said the election of UW Oshkosh College Democrat Chapter Chair Grayson Bourke as the Northeastern Regional Director for CDW was pivotal in trying to promote the issues directed toward campus. Johny Brewer, the secretary for the College Republicans said this apathy exists, but reiterated no one should be apathetic towards his or her ability to vote. “There’s a reason politics never leaves the news,” Brewer said. “Our votes mean something [and] you, we, have the power to make changes locally, statewide or throughout the nation.” Brewer said explaining the facts to people will be their best tool in motivating people to be more involved. “Our goal is not only to explain why things like lowering taxes, cutting regulations, freezing tuition, balancing budgets, respecting life and protecting personal freedoms make sense, we hope to help students why they are conservatives as well,” Brewer said. Benjamin Stepanek, the Vice-Chair for UW Oshkosh College Democrats, said recent Wisconsin politics has contributed to kids becoming more active. “The governor’s assault on students and the UW System has been our greatest motivator and has actually helped us recruit new members to the organization,” Stepanek said. Stepanek, on behalf of UW Oshkosh College Democrats, said he is strongly opposed to much of the policies that have been put in place by the current legislator are led by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. “The UW Oshkosh College Democrats are adamantly opposed to Scott Walker’s attack on students and working families,” Stepanek said. “Students shouldn’t be paying the price for the governor’s political ambition.” Stepanek said he was against the UW System budget cuts and hopes to help lead his organization to advocate against the proposed $300 million. “Our commitment has been and always will be to fight for affordable quality education and make achieving a college degree in reach for all students regardless of what economic class they come from,” Stepanek said. Brewer said there are a lot of reasons to remain optimistic about the budget cuts. “Gov. Walker’s budget proposal is, like the rest of his policies, bold,” Brewer said. “Much hay has been made over what critics call ‘devastating’ cuts to higher education. Brewer said as students within the UW system, it is exciting that Walker might propose a permanent cap on college tuition. UWO freshman Tyree Pope said he is hesitant to align himself with either party because of the current budget issues. “These parties seem like they are always involved in a giant mud slinging contest,” Pope said. “I don’t want to pick a side, just to have to put down the other side.” Pope said he wants to remain neutral and be able to use his vote to support candidates that support his ideals, despite partisanship. “When I vote, it is going to be for the best candidate.” Pope said. “I do not care what party they are from.” UW Oshkosh’s two main political advocating parties, the UWO College Democrats and College Republicans, are coming off an election year, but still plan to keep their chapters active. Both organizations have been active since the year started and have been advocating on behalf of candidates for the 2014-gubernational elections. Though both chapters experienced success and failure during the elections, both remain optimistic about their organizations and moving forward in the future. “The gubernational elections did not go exactly the way we planned,” Novak said. “Regardless, we are maintaining a positive outlook on what is to come.” Brewer said there was a lot of momentum from the 2014-gubernational elections. “Our hard work paid off, as both Winnebago and Fond du La counties voted more for Governor Walker than in either of the prior two elections, and UW Oshkosh voted 60-40 in favor of Governor Walker,” Brewer said. Brewer said College Republicans have a plan to take the momentum built from the last election and keep it moving forward. “One major part of our plan is to host more speakers next year than we were able to this year,” Brewer said. “Wisconsin has quite the collection of awesome conservatives, and we are looking to rally the strong conservative spirit on campus by bringing some of them in.”