After leading the College Democrats at IU through an election season filled with difficult losses for their party, junior Terry Tossman and sophomore Javier Fuentes-Rohwer will retain their positions as organization president and vice president, respectively.
The group voted Wednesday night to pick the students who will lead them through the spring and fall 2017 semesters. It chose to keep the two veteran officers, who said they hope to lead IU Democrats toward advocating for more college-based issues now that elections are over.
“We create the policy now,” Tossman said. “It’s not the candidates that create the policy, and we’re going to create change from the bottom up.”
Tossman said he plans to work with Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton to move both the city and IU toward more environmentally friendly practices. He said he also wants to work prison reform, college affordability, LGBT protection and women’s rights into the group’s agenda.
“This is us speaking out against the issues and against any injustice,” Tossman said.
In addition, he said, the IU Democrats now have more freedom to protest issues at the state and national level.
Tossman said he hopes the College Democrats at IU will be a watchdog organization for any extreme decisions or political appointees President-elect Donald Trump enacts, especially as his inauguration and confirmation hearings approach.
“We’re not going to sit on the sidelines and do whatever he wants,” Tossman said.
Since he formerly served as president, Tossman said he has more connections with other Democratic organizations he can use to the group’s advantage. This might include finding more politicians to speak on campus.
The other officers are also experienced, so the IU Democrats will have a strong executive board for the upcoming year, Tossman said.
“We don’t have to start all over,” Tossman said. “We can build on the strengths, the connections we’ve made.”
The board includes junior John Teney as treasurer, graduate student Paige Settles as director of political affairs, freshman Brooke O’Connor as director of outreach, freshman Reagan Davis as director of social events and junior Courtney Schwerin as director of communications.
Fuentes-Rohwer said his biggest reason for running for reelection was the results from Election Day and Indiana’s Republican-majority win.
“If we don’t begin to push for policy change we can achieve on campus, we’re going to let them control us,” Fuentes-Rohwer said.
Fuentes-Rohwer initially served as director of candidate relations beginning last December, but he was reappointed when the previous vice president quit last semester.
Since he joined the executive board as a freshman, Fuentes-Rohwer said he has learned to listen to people better and learn how to channel their energy into accomplishing tasks.
“The Democratic Party that made them turn off in the last election is not the Democratic Party of the future,” Fuentes-Rohwer said. “We are the Democratic Party of the future.”
Fuentes-Rohwer said he wants to work against discriminatory legislation that may possibly be passed in the Statehouse as well as national issues that could hurt college students like unnecessary difficulties with voter registration and possible restricted funding on Pell Grants.
Fuentes-Rohwer said students should stick with the Democratic party even after seeing its candidates lose almost the entire ticket in Indiana because it still exists to address issues young people face. By continuing their involvement with IU Democrats, Fuentes-Rohwer believes they can truly make their voices heard.
“Students should take every anger or sadness they’re feeling and hit back where it hurts,” Fuentes-Rohwer said.
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