There are many ways to become more politically aware and involved at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, with opportunities for participation in the local community.
Dustin Andras, a member of the UL College Democrats and secretary for the Young Democratic Socialists of Acadiana, encouraged students to pay attention to more than just the presidential election.
“A lot of people say, ‘My vote doesn’t count.’ And when that comes to presidential elections, that’s kind of true, depending on where you are,” Andras said. “In local elections, your vote definitely counts. Not just your vote, but your actions.”
Involvement in and awareness of one’s local community and organizations is emphasized by Andras as most important.
“One of the major reasons that Republicans have been so successful lately is that they've really put a focus on getting people elected to smaller local positions to build their credibility, and eventually getting them in federal positions,”Andras said.
“There are multiple ways for Republican students at UL to get involved with politics, and one of the easiest ways is with the College Republicans,” Rachel Howard, President of the UL Lafayette College Republican and State chair for the Louisiana Federation of College Republicans, wrote in a statement to the Vermilion.
“For students looking to attend events, connect with like-minded individuals, and make a difference, the UL College Republicans is the place to do it,” Howard wrote in her statement.
One example given for these kinds of events included one this semester involving Louisiana Congressperson Steve Scalise.
“There are paid and non paid internship opportunities that the College Republicans are able to connect students with,” Howard wrote in her statement to the Vermilion.
Andras also talked about important events held by the organizations he works with.
“We've already done so much like helping organize protests in the wake of the Treyford Pellerin shooting,” he said.
Andras went on to talk about the ongoing community projects he is a part of.
“We're currently trying to work with the university and other clubs on getting a community garden started. We've done voter registration drives, we're doing a safe sex drive,” he said.
These projects are a large part of one of Andras’s main goals.
“A few of the members have gone to local government meetings to help oppose certain ordinances,” Andras said as an example of direct local involvement.
Finally, both have something to say on the subject of how to be more aware of important news.
Andras said, “I would say that one of the best things that has helped me stay in politics is subscribing to a free newsletter called The Current.”
The Current is a nonprofit Lafayette publication with a focus on providing digital-first publication.
In her written statement to the Vermilion, Howard said “The best way for students to become politically aware is for them to listen to both sides of an issue.”
Howard does not state a particular publication to consider, and instead said in her written statement, “For students who are already politically engaged I would challenge them to spend time looking at opposing viewpoints and try to understand why other people think and vote differently from them.”