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Not that kind of party

Ebony Carter, senior, currently serves as the president of the Young Democrats of Georgia State. Photo by Sam Puckett | The Signal

The midterm elections are all anyone can talk about. Friends, Twitter mutuals and coworkers — everyone asks if you’ve voted. And don’t think you can’t get involved because you’re a student. Student-led political groups are registering voters, leading voting carpools and hosting watch parties.

GETTING INVOLVED

Georgia State has many political groups that advocate for communities, volunteer for campaigns and open spaces for dialogue on local activism. Student organizing has a rich history. The U.S. Anti-Vietnam War Movement, Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter were all hugely bolstered by student activism.

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Alex Butson joined Georgia State’s International Socialist Organization in the fall of 2016.

“I joined because I was so frustrated with Trump’s election and the current political climate and I just wanted to go do something,” Butson said. “First it was coming to meetings and slowly taking on flyering.”

Butson now runs meetings and copies minutes for the ISO. She’s a member of the national organization as well as the university chapter. There are a thousand jobs to keeping political organizations working and a lot of it looks like paperwork. This paperwork includes copying and filing emails and phone numbers, agendas and file-keeping.

Ebony Carter is the president of the Young Democrats at Georgia State and a senior political science major from McDonough, Georgia. She first became politically aware while watching the midterm elections in 2014. She was shocked to look into the amount of seats in Georgia that run without competition.

“There were upwards of fifty unopposed seats that are all going to Republicans,” Carter said. “I’m from one of those districts.”

CHALLENGES OF ORGANIZING

Youth voters have been accused in past elections of political apathy. Education is the first step to combat apathy, according to Carter.

“This midterm election has been better organized in terms of providing voters with information,” she said. “Telling them how to figure out if they’re registered, what to do to get registered, where to find information about their sample ballot.”

She has been surprised by the state of activism on campus, coming from the metro area where conservative politics are more the norm. In her experience, a general left-wing atmosphere on campus creates an environment of apathy.

“When you’re in an area that’s very skewed to one side, the people in that area become very comfortable and feel less of a need to be political,” Carter said. “It’s been hard to find people who are interested in becoming involved in the Young Dems.”

Carter said the generally leftist campus might push the College Republicans to be more active. Steep competition is effective motivation.

“Even though they are the majority in the state, I think they feel as if because they are a minority on our campus, they have to be more involved,” Carter said.

The communications director of the College Republicans Steven Caruso agrees that Georgia State can be an antagonist place to conservatives. He said he’s faced many challenges expressing his views, like when a teacher was hesitant to accept his suggestions during a class discussion.

“I thought Nathan Deal was popular with Democrats,” Caruso said.

Caruso receives a lot of pushback on his ideas. He uses a word known in more leftist discourse to describe the subtle aggression socially marginalized people face.

“To borrow the left’s word, if you want to argue with them you have to use their language. It’s microaggressions,” Caruso said.

A QUESTION OF VALUES

Caruso joined the College Republicans his sophomore year. He said he’s different from his liberal peers, who he said value care and fairness. He likes those, but would also add authority, loyalty and purity. He likened his view of authority in governance to the obedience children have to their parents. And purity? He’s got clear ideas about that policy agenda.

“Purity as in being disgusted with things you see,” Caruso said. “How open would you be to eating a roach sandwich?”

When he joined the club, it was an uphill battle for representation on campus. The club retained only one former member from the semester before and finding ways to build up their membership has been difficult. They run into trouble organizing publically.

“Plenty of things other clubs can do, we can’t do,” Caruso said. “If we post a whole bunch of posters up, they get taken down pretty immediately.”

He’s seen a lot of success being more visible on campus from tabling to a debate last spring with the Young Democrats. He wants to see more people come out as conservative, saying they welcome more than run-of-the-mill conservatives.

“If you are a conservative on campus … we’re very open to libertarians too, even the alt-right we’re open to,” Caruso said.

At a meeting of the ISO, there was significant energy about the election. Several meeting members volunteered for Stacey Abrams and they openly worried the election would lead to a runoff.

But activism for the ISO extends beyond the ballot. On Oct. 4, they led a speakout against the Kavanaugh appointment. National member Korin worked on the Kavanaugh protest and was very satisfied with the turn out.

“We believe survivors. F— rape culture. That’s something everyone can get in on,” Korin said.

Political apathy touches more than the two major parties however, and the ISO has dealt with it as well.

“A lot of people on this campus aren’t very politicized, but at the same time … nobody’s happy with the world today,” Korin said.

He has a message for students who are looking for an outlet.

“A lot of people don’t know what they can do about it, or they think the most that they can do is vote … What we’re doing is a way of saying ‘No, we can do more [than only vote],’” Korin said.

POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS:

  • The Left at Georgia State University: They are concerned with building a leftist coalition on campus and addressing various forms of oppression.
  • Malcolm X Grassroots Movement at Georgia State University: They are advocates for the self-determination of black people. They hold themselves as representatives for those disenfranchised by the American empire.
  • Young Democrats at Georgia State: They are the on-campus contact with the Democratic Party. They coordinate student involvement in campaigns and non-profit organizations.
  • College Republicans at Georgia State University: They are the on-campus contact with the Republican Party. They organize conservative students’ movements.
  • Federalist Society: This conservative organization advocates for the state’s role in preserving freedom and the separation of governmental powers. They focus on libertarian causes.
  • Student Environmental Team: They advocate for the conservation of natural resources, from water, energy to forestry. They have implemented a recycling program on campus. Michael Black is the faculty advisor.
  • Faces of Feminism: They are interested in furthering justice for gender and sexual minorities. The president is Amna Ali.
  • International Socialist Organization: They believe in combating climate change, sexism, war and poverty. The faculty advisor is William Britto.
  • Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity: They are a space or uplifting the visibility and poer of the LGBTQ community on campus. Student Cassidy Ryan is the president

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