On Wednesday, April 6, a group of 15 students crowded into a classroom on the second floor of Gailor. Led by Alexis Miniat (C’25), the meeting was the first meeting of the renewed Sewanee Democrats Society, which had fallen off around the fall semester of 2019 when COVID disrupted student organizations.
“My whole goal is to create more political conversations on campus so that we can create more voters for the midterm elections happening in November,” said Miniat.
When asked why she restarted the Democrats Society, Miniat spoke of young voters in America and in Sewanee.
“I’m just hoping we can create more awareness that elections are happening because, you know, there’s that huge disparity between young voters in America,” said Miniat. “So, we have the Yea, Sewanee Votes! initiative, right? They had that initiative in 2016 during the Presidential election to see how many students were voting. Interestingly enough, we had 80% registered and only 40% actually voted.”
According to Sewanee Votes, Sewanee’s voting population doubled during the last presidential election, “rising to a 66.4% student voting rate in 2020 from a rate of 37.3% in 2016.” You can read the official study here.
In the meeting, Miniat focused on voter education and hands-on experience for members of the club. The club, while being the Democrats Society, hopes to help all sides of Sewanee’s campus become more informed citizens.
“I think that we are also attracting those who want to get politically active but aren’t necessarily aligned with the Democratic party,” said Miniat. “So, I’m just hoping that creating political conversations within this group is important because we all want the same thing. That’s the beauty of politics, to facilitate those conversations.”
Focusing on education, the Sewanee Democrats Society plans on working very closely with the Democrats Society of Franklin County, even inviting Dr. Sherry Hamby to the meeting. Hamby, while a research professor at the college, recently became the chair of Franklin’s Democrats Society in August.
“When I had the first meeting and I was talking with our Franklin Country representative, [Dr. Hamby], they were talking about what we could do… like work with candidates” said Miniat. “That’s something I have dreamed of doing, like, since I was little. Helping them do their thing is very important to me. Once we got the opportunity, I figured a lot more people would want to do it.”
Hamby, while passing out free stickers and signs, informed members of opportunities in their future, such as attending Franklin County’s monthly meetings and attending the rallies for those running for Tennessee’s Governor.
The students seemed thrilled at the new opportunities that the Sewanee Democrats Society has offered. Kate Grayson (C’25), a member of the Sewanee Democrats Society, firmly believes that when asked why she joined.
“I think it’s important to get young voters involved, especially college students because we get registered but then we don’t vote,” said Grayson. “It’s important they learn how to register… how to vote… who to vote for. I thought it was a great opportunity to be involved, and I feel very passionately about that.”
If you would like to attend the next Sewanee Democrats Society meeting, it occurs every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Gailor 225.
Cover photo courtesy of Derby Carlson (C’23).