Lauren Ceronie Editor in chief
Presidential politics can often seem far away from Miami University’s campus but this year the university has direct ties to the election.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a 1992 Miami graduate, was chosen to be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate, bringing national attention to Miami along the way.
Deedie Dowdle, associate vice president of university communications and marketing said that while Miami will remain non-partisan, officials are proud to have an alum reach such success.
“Everybody at the university is very proud we have a distinguished alumnus, that’s not being partisan, we’re proud of it,” Dowdle said.
As a public university, however, Miami must ensure it gives all parties equal opportunities.
“The university is non-partisan,” Dowdle said. “We try to be very clear that Miami is not supporting any of it, we’re trying to be very clear that Miami does not endorse any candidate. We’re a public university and if a candidate, or any group, requests to have an event on campus we try to honor that, we try to work with that. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, we try to work with that. As a public university it’s our job to make sure people have that right.”
The Romney campaign and College Republicans took advantage of this right last Wednesday when Ryan made a campaign stop at Miami.
Baylor Myers, Chairman of College Republicans, said the group had only a few days to plan the event, funded by the Romney campaign.
Randy Tomas, the university’s lobbyist contacted Myers and told him Ryan had an interest in coming. Myers said he coordinated with the Romney campaign in Butler County from there to pick a location and get students back to campus a few days early.
“We found out officially on Sunday, I got a call from Boston from the Romney campaign and then it just became a whirlwind. I hadn’t intended on coming back to school until Friday.”
While Myers did not get coveted one on one time with the vice presidential candidate, he did get to shake Ryan’s hand after the event. Myers said he also had the chance to speak with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
“He’s (Portman) really engaging and really personable whenever you see him,” Myers said. “He always says ‘Miami College Republicans, you’re doing great.”
Myers said he would have liked to meet Ryan, he understands the vice presidential candidate’s schedule is busy.
“I wish I had gotten to meet Paul Ryan but I did talk to someone from the Romney campaign who said next time he’s in the region we’ll get a little more priority, but we know his schedule is really tight,” Myers said.
Although not all Miami students will vote for Ryan come Election Day, many are still proud to have a successful Miami alum, according to Laura Kretz, president of College Democrats.
“Obviously it is exciting, he is a very distinguished alumnus,” Kretz said. “We are excited, at the end of the day he works hard for his constituents and it’s great that now people know where Miami University is, we don’t have to say Ohio all the time.”
However, Kretz said she thinks students need to look further than Ryan’s college degree when voting.
“Our feeling is we don’t want people to vote for him based on where he went to school,” Kretz said. “Obviously we can have a lot of pride about that, but a lot of his policies will effect a lot of students so we need to take that into consideration.”
Ryan’s education policies are especially important to students, according to Kretz.
“The biggest thing with Paul Ryan is he has really radical policies when it comes to education,” Kretz said. “He wants to cut Pell Grants, which is huge. Pell Grants are really important, that’s how millions of students pay for college. This is not the time to cut education funding, and that’s something students really need to focus on.”
Myers said College Republicans has seen an explosion of interest since Ryan’s nomination.
“We’ve had tons of people asking to see if they could volunteer, asking to see if they could help out, even just short emails to me saying, ‘this is great for Miami, great for the College Republicans, keep doing what you’re doing,'” Myers said. “I think the enthusiasm on this campus is going to be unprecedented with Paul Ryan as a presidential pick.”
College Republicans will focus on jobs when recruiting members, according to Myers.
“I think our recruiting line is going to be ‘our generation is faced with 8.2 percent unemployment and our peers are pouring money, time and resources into getting college degrees and then they’re going home and living with their parents, unemployed and it’s a waste,” Myers said. “Barack Obama has failed to deliver with the jobs and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will bring the jobs and we need them desperately.”
College Democrats will also be working to attract students, according to Kretz.
College Democrats are trying to get out the student vote as well, through events such as a kickoff behind Shriver and an event called “Know Your Care” where members will explain to students how the Affordable Care Act impacts them. The organization will also be around campus registering students to vote throughout the semester. Kretz said this includes “Golden Week,” October 2-9, where students can register to vote and vote at the same time.
“That’s a big thing, registering people to vote,” Kretz said. “We’re registering all people to vote, not just Democrats but everyone.”