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Students and campus organizations prepare for November election

This story was originally published in the Herald Oct. 4 newsmagazine.

Campus clubs and organizations on the Hill have been working to prepare students for the upcoming November gubernatorial election in various ways.

A number of organizations have hosted voter registration drives across campus. Students and faculty have tabled around campus to spread voting information while giving out election-based memorabilia. These items have included pamphlets with voting registration information, election day and candidate information and also pro-conservative,
pro-liberal and neutral pin buttons.

Some individual students within the campus organizations have specifically contributed to spreading voting and election information to their peers.

Aniya Johnson, senior political science major and president of the WKU chapter of Young Democrats, said she got involved with her role in the organization because she wanted to be more politically active.

Johnson initially started her freshman year as a photojournalism major. When she switched to political science, she felt she needed to get introduced to other politically involved students on campus. She reached out to the Young Democrat’s past president and then took on the position herself.

“It was something that was a spur of the moment kind of thing,” John- son said. “But I just knew that since I’ve already been working with the organization, it would be a greater chance for me to explore my leadership opportunities and to work with other students and get more people introduced.”

The Young Democrats plan to work closely with Gov. Andy Beshear’s reelection campaign throughout the election season and to host their own voter registration drives to make sure students are able to vote.

Outside of the organization, Johnson herself has individually been working with the governor’s campaign. She has knocked on doors and worked the campaign phone bank in Bowling Green spread information on the election and campaign.

Throughout her involvement, she has been trying to recruit more students to join her in campaigning, especially those who are also in Young Democrats.

Johnson said that even though it can be difficult for students to go outside of campus and vote, those votes are essential to the election’s outcome.

Aniya Johnson poses for a portrait outside the WKU Student Government Association chambers in Bowling Green, KY on Sept. 21, 2023. Johnson serves as the Director of Information Technology for SGA. (Kayden)

“There are a lot of students on this campus, and this county is really important [to the election]. Making sure students actually go out to vote is important,” Johnson said.

Gabriel Chambers, a sophomore meteorology major, vice president of the WKU chapter of Students for Life of America, treasurer of the WKU chapter of the American Conservation Coalition and member of the WKU chapter of College Republicans, said he got involved with these groups to meet other students and to try to create change both on campus and in the community.

Chambers is also the founder and president of the WKU chapter of the Young Americans for Liberty and a member of the WKU chapter of Turning Point USA, both non-partisan organizations.

“Politics is something that I’m very passionate about,” Chambers said.

College Republicans has plans to assist at fundraisers and events in support of Republican nominee Daniel Cameron’s campaign over the course of the election season. Turning Point USA plans to take part in a nationwide campaign called Vote and Live, which helps students register to vote and get involved.

Chambers said he individually has been helping campaign in the community for Cameron by door knocking, spreading information and trying to get community members involved in events.

He believes that it is extremely important for college students to go out and vote in the election, especially those whose permanent address is outside of Kentucky.

“People who are from out-of-state Kentucky, you go to college in Kentucky so the decisions of the election affect [you],” Chambers said.

Many students and their organizations plan to continue campaigning and hosting voter registration drives through the course of the election season to urge those on campus to cast their ballot when the time comes.

Gabriel Chambers poses for a portrait in front of Henry Hardin Cherry Hall, which houses WKU’s political science department, in Bowling Green, KY on Sept. 20, 2023. (Kayden )

“Voting, I can’t stress enough how important it is […] deciding who to give power to is really important,” Chambers said.

Editor’s note: In reporting this story, the Herald learned that Gabriel Chambers was charged with assault, fourth degree dating violence on Aug. 27, 2022. Accord- ing to the WKU police incident report, Chambers and the victim agreed that Chambers “punched” the victim on the side of the head during a disagreement. The court record states on March 7, 2023 the charge was ordered for a pretrial diversion. The diversion completion is set for March 29, 2024, after which the case would be dis- missed. Chambers provided the Herald with a statement: “I will say that I have refused to go down to the court- room and get that case removed off my record because it was dismissed. So yeah, that’s something that I definitely need to do because well I- it’s irrelevant at this point. And yeah, this probably should have never come up. So, that’s just me not doing what the court told me I could do. Yeah. That’s about all I have to say about that. I honestly, like, forgot even about it, so.”

News Reporter Ali Costellow can be reached at [email protected].