While the USD College Republicans and College Democrats may not agree on much, the organizations share the same goal — creating educated voters.
Gianna Miranda, USD College Republican president, and Melody Beaulieu, USD College Democrat president, both said they are open to building a bigger alliance between the two organizations. Currently, the two work separately.
“I think we should do some things so it shows that just because you’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum doesn’t mean you can’t get along,” Miranda said. “Nationally, the parties are separated. If we can work together to bridge that gap, I think it would do a lot more good than harm.”
On Sept. 26, the parties collaborated to register voters on National Voter Registration Day. Beaulieu said the goal was to get as many people registered to vote, regardless of political parties.
“I would love to see every single student on campus register to vote whether it be democrat, independent, republican or otherwise,” Beaulieu said. “It would be great to work with the Republicans to increase awareness and let students know it is important to be involved, whether we disagree or not.”
The College Republicans currently have around 100 students on their listserv email and around 25 members consistently coming to meetings, Miranda said.
The group’s constitution requires members to attend six meetings to become active members of the College Republicans. So far, the organization has not had six meetings, so no one is technically an active member, Miranda said.
Miranda said this year the group hopes to build on the strides made last semester and continue to become a larger presence on campus.
“Last year was really big because we had a lot of big speakers and we did a lot for the organization overall,” she said. “The purpose of our organization is to essentially spread the conservative values, not only around campus, but around the state.”
At their meetings, the group discusses hot topic issues, such as abortion and gun control. Miranda said having a safe space at meetings for people to express their opinions makes the organization efficient.
“People have this common misconception of because you are a republican you all think the same thing, but there are definitely a lot of diverse opinions in our organization,” she said. “It can be hard talking politics with everyone because you never know.”
The College Republicans, Miranda said, focus more of their time on local elections instead of presidential elections. She also said, regardless of the level, it is important that voters are educated before casting their vote.
“If people know more about politics they are going to know what to look for, what to vote for in candidates and they are going to do their research to make educated votes instead of things like party voting,” she said.
As a freshman, Beaulieu has taken over as president of the College Democrats. She said the previous president, Courtney Gold, came to her high school to speak and said the organization was “dying.” Having a majority of underclassman members has given the club a “clean slate,” Beaulieu said.
“It’s nice to not have to stick to norms and kind of get to make new rules and work my way around issues,” she said.
Beaulieu said the organization has roughly 100 members and 30 active members. Unlike the College Republicans, the only requirement to become an active member of the College Democrats is to engage with the club, Beaulieu said.
The College Democrats are trying to stay up to date on political issues and the presidential election process, Beaulieu said. The group held a debate watch party on Tuesday and is planning on hosting more throughout the election season.
“We want to go down to Sioux City whenever candidates come because the Iowa caucus is such an important part of the political world,” she said. “We also want to host campaign organizers to come in and talk about the different careers you can go into with a political science degree.”
Their meetings are focused mostly on policies, Beaulieu said. At their last meeting, they covered reproductive rights, the impeachment proceeding and LGBTQ+ issues. Beaulieu said they try to have at least one event per week to help build up their presence on campus.
“It’s good just to increase awareness on campus, especially because we’re in such a conservative state,” she said. “I think it is really powerful to have something going on every week just to tell people that we’re here and we’re strong.”
Both presidents said they encourage students, political science majors or not, to get involved in politics and to “keep an open mind.”
“With the polarization you see, people are very stuck in their opinions and if you just listen to people of the other side of the political spectrum and just have a conversation with them you are going to realize that you guys are a lot more alike than you think you are,” Miranda said. “Just talk to people.”
The Young Democratic Socialists of USD were contacted for this story but did not get back in time for publication.