As election nears, students get involved


Casey Rothgeb

Students take opportunities on campus to exercise and demonstrate their political power.

Star Diavolikis, Staff Reporter

On campus, many students are expressing their political voices in different ways. This can include informational booths, protests and other demonstrations. Alexis Heng-Bentley, a freshman secondary English education major, is getting a start on expressing her views.

“I don’t do as much as I would like to,” Heng-Bentley said. “Ideally, I would like to go to the small gatherings on Main Street and West Fifth Avenue for [Black Lives Matter (BLM)] but I have connected with a few of the guys in my dorm wing who have the same views as me and during the debates we message commentary to each other and I’m planning on decorating my door to express my beliefs.”

Ethan Rocklin is a representative of Turning Point USA, an advocacy group on campus currently aiming to become an official club. Turning Point USA is often taken to be a conservative or right-wing group. However, their goal strays away from a specific political viewpoint according to Rocklin.

“On college campuses, the primary goal of Turning Point [USA] is to more or less educate students on the importance of things like freedom of speech and other constitutional rights, including limited government,” Rocklin said. “There’s the empowerment side, which is trying to get people involved and open debate or discussion, or even bringing different public speakers to campus.”

Hosting either discussion or information tables is a common demonstration made by Turning Point USA. According to Rocklin, there have been tables for the past few weeks with another goal.

“The goal is to get all sorts of people, conservatives, libertarians – ideally, we would also want people who lean left, but with the stigma that comes around things like Turning Point, it’s kinda hard to get those kinds of people,” Rocklin said.  “We’re just trying to promote open discussion and our freedoms.”

While there are many demonstrations around the US, some have not gained much traction while other movements have. Political figures are visiting college campuses to spread their message, and these can be received in a positive or negative way. Discussing ongoing local demonstrations, Heng-Bentley believes they are effective here in Ellensburg.

“I think that these demonstrations are somewhat effective,” Heng-Bentley said. “I believe [the] majority of Ellensburg’s population is conservative older folks but it gives me a lot of hope when I see older white individuals standing up for BLM.”

Turning Point USA has only held a few demonstrations, however Rocklin said there is a possibility of success for Turning Point USA’s mission of educating students.

“I think over time, you know, as the amount of demonstrations stack up, then yeah I feel it will have a positive impact,” Rocklin said. “But there’s also a negative side, where we might have some heated arguments.”

So far, there have been a few informational booths and discussion booths hosted at CWU by Turning Point USA.

“We actually had quite a few people with opposing views come over and we talked a little bit,” Rocklin said. “And that’s kind of the goal of the table at least.”

Getting started on expressing political opinions on campus can be somewhat difficult. Students have different pathways available on campus regarding how to get started, whether it is on a professional level or everyday discussion level.

“I’ve always been fairly vocal about the change I want to see in this country,” Heng-Bentley said. “The main way I got started on campus was through other students messaging me and encouraging me when I post saying that they agree with me.”