Two women will serve as the leaders of the Ohio University College Democrats and the OU College Republicans next year, with a shared goal of increasing voter registration.
Meah McCallister, a sophomore studying creative writing, will lead the OU College Democrats during the 2019-2020 school year, while Kailey Gentner, a junior studying biological sciences, will head the OU College Republicans.
McCallister described her plan for the future of OUCDs as “interacting with real people.” Under her leadership, OUCDs will work to address some of the issues that affect Athens County residents.
She said OUCDs will partially focus on women’s issues, and she hopes to work with local domestic violence agencies such as My Sister’s Place. She is also interested in doing volunteer work at local food pantries, which the Athens County Democratic Party did during the government shutdown last year.
“(We’re) taking big federal ideas and knowing that they apply to local issues,” McCallister said. “I think that scope is important but knowing that those issues affect everyone. So big ideas but with the normal people.”
McCallister said she wants to build the OUCDs’ presence in Athens as much as at OU.
Inspired by her time working as a phone bank captain during the 2017 midterm elections, she will have OUCDs coordinate more closely with the county party for events to increase political awareness in Athens.
“(We’re) bringing awareness to everyday issues that a lot of people don’t necessarily know or understand how they’re being affected by and giving them a resource to try to enact change in some way,” McCallister said. “That if we can’t do it directly, we can direct them in a way that they can.”
Gentner plans to direct OUCRs’ focus internally. She’d like to get OUCRs’ general membership more engaged in the club’s discussions and decision making, and also double down on recruitment.
“If it’s not an election year, people aren’t searching out a political club to join,” Gentner said. “I found out a lot of people, just talking to people on campus, don’t even know our organization exists sometimes. So I really just want to get our name out there further and work on getting new members, because they’re our future.”
As a STEM major, Gentner understands that many people come to the university unaware of the political scene on campus. She’d like to change that next year by making OUCRs more visible on campus.
Gentner wants to expand the presence of OUCRs through tabling, volunteer events and having members personally reach out to potential recruits.
“Going into college, I didn’t know (about OUCRs). I’m a pre-med bio major; I was looking for medical and academic clubs, and I just stumbled upon (OUCRs),” Gentner said. “It’s definitely helped my political awareness. I feel much more educated and confident in my vote, rather than just kind of going off other things.”
Both presidents said they would like to coordinate events together more often next year.
Because 2019 is an off-year for federal elections, McCallister and Gentner would like to partner together for voter registration events in preparation for the 2020 presidential election.
“I’d definitely want to coordinate, whether it’s voter registration or some other efforts to get us involved together,” Gentner said. “And voter registration is very important. It’s a little bit of a tricky time for that, but we need to get people voting for the next election.”