Campus groups talk Republican takeover, look to hype 2016 elections

Hannah Armenta

With political change in motion after midterm elections, Kent State University student organizations are reflecting on the results and now focusing their efforts on the 2016 presidential elections.

“It was a good day for Republicans,” said Christian Pancake, president of Kent State College Republicans about last night’s election results. “I think it sends a message the work that Ohio Governor John Kasich and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor has done these past few years has been seen by Ohio.”

At the national level, the Republicans now have majority control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Pancake said he believes this will help to eliminate some of the gridlock that has been coming from Congress.

The College Republicans will continue its efforts in campaigning for 2016 presidential candidates. Currently, the group is one of the top chapters in Ohio. It made more than 3,000 calls for the Kasich/Taylor campaign.

However, not all parties are happy with the Republican control of Capitol Hill.

“It was a blunder for Democrats,” said Matthew Chernesky, president of the Kent State chapter of Ready for Hillary. “Low turnout among Democrats and our demographic weren’t that great for us either.”

Ready for Hillary will continue to educate students on 2016 presidential election issues and encourage them to register to vote.

PRIDE! Kent President Brandon Stephens said the LGBTQ community is also affected by the election results. And with the new Republican majority, he believes progress on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will halt.

According the American Civil Liberties Union, ENDA is legislation that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers.

Currently, it is legal in 29 states to fire someone or refuse to hire him or her based on sexual orientation. In 33 states, it is legal to fire or deny employment to someone who is transgender.

“ENDA is not going to make it through Congress with a Republican-controlled Congress,” Stephens said.

He predicts that activist groups like the Human Rights Campaign will now focus on raising money to support Democratic candidates in the 2016 election.

Kent State’s Undergraduate Student Government took a non-partisan stance on the election results.

“It was interesting to see the correlation between what voters named as their number one ballot issues and what they actually voted on,” said Marvin Logan, USG president.

For next year’s midterm elections, USG is looking to educate the campus on its options to vote.

“Moving forward, we will work hard to make people more aware of how the voting system works,” said Rob Lierenz, director of governmental affairs for USG.

Lierenz said that USG will help students understand the procedures of voting and let them know about filling out absentee ballots and voting early.  

The Kent Community Bill of Rights, or Issue 21, has also received a lot of attention from campus organizations. If passed, the bill would have banned fracking, or horizontal oil drilling, within the city limits.

“I think it was a good victory to say ‘no’ to the Community Bill of Rights.” Pancake said. “It was vaguely written and could have been interpreted in many different ways.”

Chernesky, however, disagrees.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “I think Kent should be a leader.”

In 2016, Chernesky hopes that the bill is back on the ballot with more of a focus on energy alternatives like solar and wind power.

Logan said overall, he was pleased with campuses reaction to midterm elections from young student voters on social media.

Student organizations from campus political groups to activist groups will set their sites on 2016 and educate students, help register them to vote and encourage political activity for coming elections.

Contact Hannah Armenta at [email protected].