By Bailey Brammer | Staff Writer
For many Baylor University students, the 2016 presidential election marked their first opportunity to vote. The ability to finally exercise this right gave plenty of students a push to start paying attention to the news and forming their own opinions on candidates.
For the Baylor Democrats club, however, an election year means much more than dipping one’s toes into the political waters.
The Baylor Democrats took an active part in this year’s election by planning on and off-campus events such as helping Baylor students register to vote, manning call centers for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and campaigning for U.S. Rep. candidate William “Bill” Matta.
“On campus, we try to make sure students are engaged and informed on what’s going on in the country and in our local community,” said Medford, Ore. junior Micah Furlong. “In particular, next semester will be important, because we will be figuring out as club and as a nation where we’re headed.”
With more than 30 members, the club meets weekly on Wednesday’s at 7 p.m. and has been led by Furlong as president, for a little less than two years. Furlong said that the Baylor Democrat divide their goals as an organization into three categories– campus, community and country.
“On campus, we try to make sure students are engaged and informed on what’s going on in the country and in our local community” Furlong said. “In particular, next semester will be important, because we will be figuring out as club and as a nation where we’re headed.”
According to the Baylor Democrats website, the club was created in 1978, and has partnered with other on and off-campus organizations such as Bears Care, Citizens for Responsible Lending and BU For the Kids.
Aside from the club’s left-leaning nature, Montgomery junior Jessica Green, Baylor Democrats treasurer believes that the primary purpose of the organization is to allow students an environment to discuss their beliefs openly.
“Our main focus above all else is just creating a safe space for everyone, whether they’re a Democrat or not, to represent their views and to have educated discourse,” Green said. “Obviously most of us tend to lean to the Democrat side, but we don’t have all Democrats in out group, and we value informing people and being passionate about our values over everything else.”
As students that attend a Baptist university, Green feels that it is important to shed light on ideas and movements that students may be unaware of if not for the Baylor Democrats.
“I think there’s something really powerful about a group of young people getting together and discussing ideas,” Green said. “At Baylor, our political views are a minority view, so it’s really powerful when we can get together and pray change for a campus that otherwise might not see that change.”
Holding onto the idea of being a receptive forum for all students, the Baylor Democrats are entering into a period of change. Although Clinton conceded the presidential race to president-elect Donald Trump, and Matta was beaten by incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, the Baylor Democrats believe that their role on-campus is far from over.
“We’re just going to focus on reorienting ourselves and figuring out how we can still convey our voices and opinions,” Green said. “We need to figure out what matters to us, rally behind that and communicate in a way so that we’re still heard, even though we’re not the popular opinion right now.”