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February 17, 2017
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you might remember that I’m an active member of one of our school’s political clubs, the College Democrats. Politics is a personal passion of mine, although I harbor no aspirations of running for office.
We’re only about a month into the semester, but the club has already done quite a bit to help our members get involved with state and local politics.
Our club’s come a long way. When I first arrived in Richmond in the fall of 2015, there were strictly two types of club members:
1.) The executive board
Our close-knit albeit minuscule group phonebanked and canvassed for Democratic candidates for the Virginia State Senate in Henrico and the city, but not much else. When the opportunity rolled around in the spring of 2016 for me to be the club’s secretary, I seized it. I won, too — although I was the only member who ran. Things were chill, for the most part. My job was merely to send out emails about upcoming meetings.
That all changed when I began my sophomore year. As I wrote months ago, our then-treasurer decided to get out of dodge without telling us (and I by “dodge,” I mean the Western Hemisphere), and I briefly became our secretary-treasurer. At the same time, with the election looming so close, a significant portion of the student body wanted to be involved in the Clinton campaign. We obliged them the best we could, and hosted phonebooks and took people out canvassing.
As someone with a car and time to spare, I was a hot commodity and spent a week’s worth of afternoons and evenings traipsing around neighborhoods, knocking on doors to encourage people to vote. I often went with some of our new members, overwhelmingly freshmen, to show them the ropes. (Not like they needed it. They tended to be better at it than I was.)
We held club elections shortly after the disaster that was November 8. Since our president didn’t opt to run for re-election, I had the chance to run for VP, took it, and won.
There’s a complete exec board at the moment, as well as a core group of active members who show up for most meetings. We’re in the process of re-chartering ourselves with the national Young Democrats organization, too. Now I think we’re on track to making the College Democrats the best darn political club on campus.
Here’s a brief list of all the best things that I and the club have done this semester:
During the second week of the semester, we had the good fortune to have Justin Fairfax, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. Nice guy. Had a lot to tell us about the future of policy in the state and nation.
A few days later, I drove some of our members to the state capitol to participate in a pro-Affordable Care Act Rally. My own congressman, Don McEachin, was in attendance, as well as Justin Fairfax, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, and Senator Tim Kaine.
This was something I desperately wanted to be a part of—to the extent that I purchased a bus ticket to D.C. that would’ve dropped me off in the middle of Chinatown at 3 AM. After reconsidering, I caught a ride with some friends up to a suburb outside of Washington, and then my friend’s aunt drove us into the city proper.
This march was positively yuge. The sensation of feeling like you’re part of something is matchless, and I personally think it was a great way to show Trump how many citizens are willing to keep him in check.
Our treasurer, Shannon, interns with the Ralph Northam gubernatorial campaign and arranged for us to meet the governor. (We even got an excuse from the dean to miss our classes that day.) Here’s a picture of some of our members with him. You might notice that I look disheveled and look like I smell feculence, but that’s because I had just run up the stairs and the sun was in my eyes.
Afterwards, we took ourselves on a self-guided tour of the capitol and even sat in on a session of the State Senate for a spell. It would’ve been interesting if we had stayed long enough to see them actually do something productive, but it is what it is.
And that’s all in January and early February. We’ve got even more planned for the rest of the semester, and I’m glad to be a part of an organization that’s making such gains on campus and, I believe, becoming an important part of the UR community.
And yes, it has occurred to me that this is an About Me and I've neglected to tell you much about me. So I'm from Chesapeake, Virginia, a place just south of Norfolk that's large enough to be a county but isn't because reasons. There's not much to do in Chesapeake other than going for a dip in the Great Dismal Swamp (ill-advised) or head to a neigboring town to hit the beach, and I think that's part of the reason I spent most of my earlier childhood holed up in my room reading books or playing Playstation.
I branched out in my high school years, though, and I've developed affinites for genealogy, running, film, and photography. I am not a man of many talents, though among them include the remarkable power to turn my thumb all the way backwards, the ablility to tell you almost everything you'd ever want to know about the Star Wars Expanded Universe (which unfortunately has been declared non-canon, thanks to J.J. Abrams), and the astonishing skill to cook Minute Rice in 58 seconds. My playlist includes mostly oldies, and my favorite movies all came out before I was born. So you might say I'm a bit of a hipster. I've even got my own snazzy red Polaroid camera, which is practically a license to hipster in this day and age, right?
So, yeah, that's me. In conclusion, read on! Hope you enjoy my blog posts!
Why UR?I'm not a very decisive person. During my senior year of high school, I envied the kids who were certain straight from the get-go where they wanted to go to college. I had applied to several great schools that I thought could offer me a great education, but I had trouble picking which one was the best fit for me. I constantly held debates against myself, weighing the pros and the cons of each school in my head and occasionally and occasionally audibly voicing my concerns a la Gollum: "How about this one?" "No, no, too big. And too far away. Going back and forth to home could prove to be a real bummer." "Good point, but look at their alumni network! They could hook you up with a job fresh out of graduation!" "Ah, true, but check out these student reviews online. You really want to go to a place with this reputation?" "Do you believe everything you read in those reviews?" "Of course I do. They can't put anything on the internet that isn't true." And so on and so on. I still hadn't made a decision by mid-April, so the jury was still out on where I was going just two weeks before the deadline. Pressure from my parents and peers to choose just kept piling on heavier and heavier. Around this time I went to a Richmond Scholars visit, which afforded prospective students who'd been offered scholarships from the University the chance to get a glimpse of life as a student here. The visit was really what sealed the deal for me. The beautiful campus was a joy to explore even in the surprisingly sweltering spring heat. I had the opportunity to sit in on a class, which wasn't very big. Richmond's small class sizes allow for intimate discussions as opposed to drawling lectures and make it rather easy to develop close relationships with professors. I've found that most of them encourage you to meet with them in their spare time, something that might be more difficult to do at a larger institution. While at the Scholars visit, I talked with my host for hours. He gave me a bare bones, down-to-earth explanation of what he thought of Richmond. And I know it's a total cliche, but there's one thing he told me that I really think rings true here at Richmond and life in general: It can be a great and rewarding experience, but only if you put in the effort to make it one. Bottom line, I think Richmond gives students the resources needed to make their college years more than worthwhile, moreso than any other school I checked out. We've got top-notch academics to satisfy any hungry mind, we've got a plethora of extracurriculars to enjoy, tons of chances to broaden our horizons (literally and figuratively), and of course, we've got the chow at D-Hall. All that's really what made me want to spend the next four years of my life here.