Calvin College Chimes

Student activity around elections reflects investment

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Calvin students and political science faculty watched the votes coming in at an election watch party hosted by the political science department. Students came and went, watching the the three screens showing different networks, while enjoying pizza and cookies. Many students there were keeping an eye on Michigan races, but some were watching other races, too.

“I’m looking really at the Texas senate vote,” sophomore Max Ziskie said, “because that is basically going to show whether or not Democratsare going to have a lead way over some Republican incumbents tonight.”

Senior Greg Plyler agreed, also stating he was watching the race between Senator Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke — Cruz ended up keeping his seat.

Many of the students there voted, either in person or via absentee ballot. Some of the students’ votes were affected by President Donald Trump, much like the rest of America — AP exit polls found that two-thirds of voters named President Trump as a reason for the way they voted — and when asked about what issues influenced their vote, a couple of students mentioned President Trump.

“Personally, a huge motivating thing for me wasn’t necessarily an issue, but was Trump and his rhetoric,” junior Sarah Vroegop said, “and feeling the need to do something — whatever I could — to contain his policies.”

The level to which students areinformed varies from student to student.

“I would say for the most part Calvin students care about the political process, but apathy can also be found in many areas,” alumna Megan Pluymert commented. “Many are lightly informed, some are very informed, but what it really comes down to is passion. Those who are passionate and care about our political happenings are the most informed.”

After graduating in 2017, Pluymert became a field organizer at NextGen America, an organization that focuses on getting out the youth vote. She went around campus the week before the election to ensure that students knew what precincts they should vote at in conjunction to where they live, and that they knew where they could get information on who they would vote for.

Pluymert and others from NextGen America have been present on campus since move-in day. They spread the word about the upcoming elections and even brought forms for students to fill out so they could get registered in time for them. Pluymert notes that she has been received very well on campus:

“As an alumna I knew Calvin would be a good place to organize and help energize the next generation of voters. Many people were thankful for our presence on campus and we saw a great increase in voter registration and voter turnout because of our efforts. The line at Woodlawn CRC (Calvin’s main polling location) topped over two hours [Tuesday] thanks to the youth voter turnout.”

Calvin’s chapel served as a polling location hosted by Woodlawn CRC, a church that worships there regularly.

By the end of the night of the watch party and into Wednesday morning, most of the results were in. The Democrats took control of the house, with 220 seats to Republicans’ 195. Meanwhile, the Republicans kept control of the Senate, with 51 seats.

In the Michigan races, Senator Debbie Stabenow won the race against John James, and will hold her seat in the senate. Gretchen Whitmer was elected to replace retiring Governor Rick Snyder, against Bill Schuette. Meanwhile, for district three, which contains Grand Rapids, Congressman Justin Amash won his reelection against Cathy Albro.

All three Michigan proposals also passed. This means that soon, marijuana usage will be legalized on a state level. It’s important to note, however, that it is still illegal on the federal level, and a response from Student Life is being discussed. 

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