As the November elections draw near and Mississippi prepares for what the National Review calls a “surprisingly competitive” race for governor, student groups at Southern Miss, such as Converge, College Democrats and College Republicans, have put time and effort into campaigning for their candidates.
While some of these groups endorse and campaign for candidates, the leaders of each organization hope that students will become politically active and make informed decisions above all.
According to the New York Times Article “Why Does No One Vote in Local Elections?”, only 27% of eligible voters voted in municipal elections last year, leading to results that are often unrepresentative of citizen feelings.
Senior political science major Lauren-Hunter Gaudet co-founded Converge, a non-partisan organization in its third semester on campus. As a non-partisan group, Converge allows students with different political views to discuss issues and potentially expand their minds with impactful conversation.
Gaudet said students are very affected by this governor race, and she hopes Converge allows students to get informed and realize their political power.
“When younger people become educated on issues, when they become passionate on issues, when they have an opinion on issues, it’s so important and it really will allow effective change to happen,” Gaudet said.
Senior communications major Brandon Rue is president of College Democrats and is also running for House District 102. Like Gaudet, Rue said he hopes students become more politically involved. While the organization has worked to endorse Attorney General Jim Hood for governor, they are also encouraging informed voting and general participation.
“The goal is to get people civically engaged, to get people involved in the process because we have a lot of voter apathy and people who are simply not interested,” Rue said. “At the end of the day, regardless of who wins or who loses, we want students to understand that they play a major role in any election.”
On election day, the College Democrats plan to campaign at voting stations, make phone calls and do whatever they can to help Hood in his push for governor.
Rue said that the College Democrats will be leading a walk to the polls to help voter turn out.
“The idea behind it is that college students don’t really like doing things themselves. So, we want to make it a party atmosphere,” Rue said. “Some college students also don’t know much about voting or politics in general, so we want to make it seem fun—not boring like politics can be sometimes.”
On the other side of the governor race is Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who is supported by the College Republicans. Senior psychology major Roderick Jones serves as the vice president of College Republicans, and he said the organization has been working hard to endorse Tate Reeves on campus.
Members of the College Republicans have been tabling for their club and for Reeves in order to increase awareness and involvement from students. Jones said the organization met with a member of Reeves’ campaign team on Friday to see what they can do to help on election day.
With the endorsement of President Trump and Mississippi’s conservative history, Jones said he believes Reeves will emerge victorious in the election.
“I feel like a lot of people right now, we’re complaining about things that are happening, but we’re not getting out and voting,” Jones said.
Although Jones hopes that students show up for Reeves, he, like Rue, said that political involvement is a top priority.
“We have a voice, and we can actually make a difference. And once we as college students start utilizing our voice, our politicians will have to listen to us and work for us, and that’s something they haven’t done in the past,” Rue said.
Vote in the general election Nov. 5. To learn more about political groups on campus, visit @SouthernMissCollegeRepublicans, @southernmissdemocrats and @convergesouthernmiss on Facebook.