The Virginia Young Democrats rechartered the University of Richmond chapter of College Democrats last month, prompting the club to look for new ways to influence politics on campus.
UR Young Democrats attended the Virginia Young Democrats Annual Convention on March 18 and were rechartered by the organization after a process of revising the club’s structures. As a result, the organization has provided UR Young Democrats with monetary funds and greater access to the state and national organizations.
“It allows us as a club to have greater visibility on campus,” Aaron Harawa, RC '18, the club's president, said. “Being a part of the larger organization allows us to reach out to the College Republican organization as well.”
Overall, it will let the club run events more easily on campus, such as voter registration, Harawa said.
“I am positive that the rechartering will only boost our club’s efforts and expand our outreach on campus,” Alexis Aviles, WC '20, member of College Democrats, said. “I am extremely proud to be a part of this fundamental time in the club’s growth.”
In addition, the chartering will help College Democrats become more organized, a problem that club treasurer Shannon Kane, WC '19, said they had encountered in the past.
“Chartering gives us the ability to turn to the state and national organizations if we have any larger issues,” Kane said. “It also just gives us a set of rules that we can evaluate our members by.”
Harawa was also awarded the male award for Virginia Young Democrat of the year at the convention. He sees this as a result of his involvement in the club’s transition as well as the club’s heightened involvement during an election year.
“I came at a time where that transition was just getting really smoother and it happened to coincide with the national election,” he said. “So we were able to do a lot of things with the club, like getting involved with a lot of the local campaigns.”
Kane said that she believed this achievement would also help the club’s influence grow on campus.
“As a chapter it helps us get our name out in the community,” Kane said.
The club has aspirations to spread its impact off and on campus as a result of these accomplishments. Kane said that she hoped for the club to be able to go to the Virginia General Assembly and potentially lobby.
On campus, the club first wants to address the student body’s attitude toward politics.
“For a lot of people in College Democrats now, the biggest thing they want to change is political apathy on campus,” Kane said.
Harawa also hopes to grow conversation across party lines as a result of the club's rechartering.
“I tried to bring conversation to our campus, which involves reaching out across partisan lines to the College Republicans to try to foster some sort of community,” Harawa said.
Harawa, who is about to embark upon the last week of his presidency, said he would like to give some advice to his successor.
“Focus on the issues that we can change, because we’re never going to be able to convince people on the other side to be able to come to our side of the table,” he said. “But we do all have to be at the same table.”
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