By Nancy Price
In college, many young adults are often exposed to different belief systems. They’re meeting new people from different races, religions and socioeconomic groups and may become passionate about civic engagement for the first time.
“I really became interested in politics once I went to college,” said Ted Deitz, a 20-year-old junior majoring in political science at the University of Indianapolis. “I started having more conversations with people from around the United States and learned that while there are many differences between people, deep down we all want to improve things; we just have different ways about making improvements.”
LEAVING A COMFORT ZONE
Deitz, a lifelong Southsider, transferred to UIndy and changed his major after spending his freshman year at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. “One of my professors at Belmont, Dr. Andy Watts, really inspired me to learn about issues that are not necessarily in my comfort zone,” Deitz said. “He introduced me to the problems that are facing indigenous communities across the United States and encouraged me to look beyond my own life at what was happening across the United States. I wanted to do whatever I could to preserve the environment for future generations.”
Deitz joined the UIndy College Democrats and began campaigning for Angela Elliot, who is representing District 93 as she runs for Indiana House of Representatives. He’s made new friends as a result of his political involvement, including Ellie Wilson, 20, a sophomore at the University of Indianapolis majoring in international relations and philosophy and minoring in political science and Franco-Germanic studies. As the director of outreach and communication for UIndy College Democrats Wilson connects with 14 college chapters statewide, communicates with members of those chapters and with students attending universities without a chapter and is responsible for social media.
“I’ve learned what it looks like to organize around important issues and to build inclusive coalitions,” Wilson said of her participation with the organization. Like Deitz, she has also spent time campaigning for state democratic candidates, including 5th Congressional District candidate Christina Hale and Ashley Eason, running for Indiana State Senate District 36.
LEARNING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
“My favorite part about campaigning is getting to meet people,” said Wilson. “Hearing their concerns and their values is what politics is all about. Each person who takes the time to talk to a campaign is really saying, ‘I care about my community and want to make it better. Can you help?’”
“You cannot beat the conversations that you can have on the campaign trial,” added Kegan Prentice, 21, a graduate of the University of Indianapolis who currently attends the IU McKinney School of Law at IUPUI. “Just this past month, I was knocking on my last door of the day and I ended up speaking with this voter for an hour. I may have had other places to be, but nothing could beat the joy that voter gets when they finally feel like their issues are being heard.”
Prentice, a member of the College Republicans while attending UIndy and a precinct committeeman for his home precinct in Seymour, Ind., interned for State Senator Jack E. Sandlin, representing District 36. “It takes a lot of man hours to be successful (while campaigning),” Prentice said. “You need people that are willing to do a variety of different tasks.”
Although Wilson and Prentice may have different views politically, they both agree that residents should be aware of what is happening around them and the impact of their vote.
“National, state and local government affect your life daily,” said Prentice “The only way to make the changes that you would like to see at all levels of government is to be politically active.”