Section: Editorial

Staff Editorial: Where did the (political) parties go?

 With Election Day around the corner, Kenyon students may have noticed something unusual about this year’s midterm cycle: There are no visibly active party-affiliated political organizations on campus. The Kenyon Democrats, Kenyon Republicans and Kenyon Young Democratic Socialists of America (KYDSA) have all been active on campus in recent memory, but none have had any public presence this year. 

Kenyon students are certainly still politically engaged, and the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) has filled the gap left by these organizations to some extent, spreading information about registering to vote and the candidates in the upcoming elections. Students may also be politically active themselves, or through organizations like Sunrise Kenyon, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, the Kenyon Student Worker Organizing Committee and others. Issue-based groups like these are critical to the political engagement of the student body, and CSAD does important non-partisan work advocating for democracy. But the lack of political party organizations has left a notable gap on Kenyon’s campus.

Such a gap includes a distinct lack of political opportunities that were once commonplace on campus: town halls with aspiring congressmen, debate watch parties, frequent door-to-door canvassing and presidential campaign collaboration events. Alongside these opportunities were regular meetings where students were able to converse with politically like-minded individuals, often yielding renewed engagement in local politics, new ideas for activism and tighter community bonds. 

Further, the groups often had official connections with political campaigns, such as the Kenyon Democrats’ work alongside the Elizabeth Warren campaign in 2019 or the Kenyon Republicans’ relationship with the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012. The remaining political activism that currently exists on campus simply has not managed to fill the void left by these student-led, well-connected, party-affiliated groups. Student groups also present the opportunity for political leadership — coordinating with politicians’ campaigns and organizing events are certainly imperative experiences for any student hoping to enter into a political career. 

As such, we at the Collegian hope that these party-affiliated groups, including but not limited to Kenyon Democrats, Kenyon Republicans and KYDSA, make a return to campus. Their political events, prominent activism and regular meetings formed the cornerstone of Kenyon’s student-led political discourse for years, and with the future of democracy ostensibly at stake in upcoming elections, we need them now more than ever. 

Sincerely,

Salvatore, Amelia and Reid

The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Amelia Carnell ’23 and Salvatore Macchione ’23 and executive director Reid Stautberg ’23. You can contact them at carnell1@kenyon.edu, macchione1@kenyon.edu, stautberg1@kenyon.edu, respectively. 

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