Campus clubs defy post-elections slump

by Andrea Miler
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

When the commercial breaks with the soothing voices of electoral candidates stop airing, the plastic signs with red and blue letters are but mere trash run over by cars in the street and the election results are said and done, what is left to do for those who toiled over petitions, fliers and green ribbon bracelets?

Matt Voorhees, an assistant professor of politics at Whitman, says that it is often “harder after a success” for a party to maintain an interest in activism and involvement. The losing party, on the other hand, has a stronger incentive to mobilize and continue such a standard of activism. However, in both cases, there is going to be a demand for a mobilization of interested voters.

Voorhees says the next challenge for the winning party will be to define the meaning of the election. That party will be asking themselves, “What does this victory allow us to do?”

So begins the task of building a policy agenda and motivating voters towards said agenda. To maintain interest, parties will often use networks to initiate “grassroots activities” which Voorhees described as “contacting voters.”

Sophomore Roman Goerss, chairman of the College Republicans, has plans for “creating more of a dialogue on campus” between the College Republicans and the Whitman community. Earlier in the semester, the recently ASWC recognized group co-sponsored a voter registration fair. Despite common conceptions, Goerss says the group is “relatively active,” and in the coming semester the group hopes to hold a membership recruitment drive. Goerss talks of inviting speakers—including local Republicans holding office, and hopefully officers holding a national standing—to campus.

Campus Greens member Karlis Rokpelnis does not cite much added pressure for the group caused by recent elections. He says his “comment would be that the elections this year did not play a large role in mobilizing people for environmental causes.” However, Campus Greens remains quite active.

According to Rokpelnis, the Campus Climate Challenge is the most extensive initiative in the group’s works right now. Also, the Paper Campaign is continuing an effort to urge the bookstore to sell re-used paper notebooks.

Rokpelnis also mentioned that in local political activity, “no irregularities were found in the audit of the Blue Mountain Humane Society.” Rokpelnis says Action for Animals looks forward to leaving behind the “bitter disputes of the last few years” between disenchanted humane society volunteers and the Blue Mountain Human Society and working “more efficiently towards common goals.”

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