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Laura Marsh: Political Activist

Her Campus had the opportunity to sit down with Laura Marsh this week. Laura is a junior from Augusta, Michigan and is studying History. She is also the vice chair of College Democrats, a club she has been involved in since her freshman year. Laura is also the party relations chair for Students For Hillary, and is an active member of Fem Dems, an organization tailored to the intersection of women/women’s issues and Democrats. Given this incredibly polarized election season, Her Campus thought it would be the appropriate time to take a deeper look into the political climate on campus. Please note, though, that Her Campus does not officially endorse any candidate.

 

Her Campus: Can you speak a little to how you’ve seen the clubs you’re involved in change during this election season?

Laura Marsh: Well, I’ve seen a lot of change in College Democrats since I joined as a freshman. In the past two years, I’ve seen the organization really grow. We’ve been doing a great job welcoming new members and making sure we have a friendly environment in our club. With this being an election year, we have a lot of people who want to be involved in our organization, which is great. I’ve been crazy busy during the election, I’ve been out registering voters, going to events, or planning events with progressive leaders.

 

HC: What’s been the most rewarding part of being in these clubs?

LM: One thing I’ve really enjoyed about being in Fem Dems is that I’ve been able to express my interest in women’s issues. Another great thing about both Fem Dems and College Dems is that they’ve allowed me to become really involved in local politics. Being in Michigan, it’s really interesting because our state legislation is really republican—and we’ve seen the effects of that in instances such as the Flint Water Crisis. It’s important to be engaged, yes on the presidential level, but also on local levels and in local politics. As Michigan residents, we have so much potential to make powerful changes starting on the local level.

Another thing we work on in Dems is registering voters. There are always older people who come up to us and tell us we are doing great work. A lot of people think students are not engaged and don’t care, and it’s nice to show people that isn’t necessarily true.

 

HC: What changes would you like to see?

LM: Number one on my mind, I’d like to see the glass ceiling smashed. I’m really passionate about women’s issues and I’d like to see the way we talk about female candidates change; I’d like to see female candidates not being talked over in debates. I’d love to see equal pay for equal work for women across all ethnicities and identities.

 

HC: What are your thoughts on last week’s debate?

LM: A lot of it is what I already said; it was frustrating to see how much Hillary Clinton was interrupted. It was also frustrating to see how the media responded to Hillary’s presentation during the debate—either that she was smiling too much or not enough. When Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of not having a presidential “look” or “stamina,” I think that resonated with women everywhere. I know a lot of women know the feeling of someone looking at you and thinking you aren’t capable of something, which is unfortunate.

 

HC: In such a polarized election, how do you dialogue with people of opposing views?

LM: Generally, I try and be sensitive to other viewpoints. Listening to people is really valuable and I’m curious to hear other opinions. But in an election like this where there is so much harmful and hateful rhetoric, I do not want to respect racist or sexist views. In the past few days, we’ve had instances where people are debating if black lives matter. In this election, it can be hard to dialogue with people since I refuse to validate the viewpoint that some lives don’t matter or that some people matter less than others. Moreover, when Tim Kaine came to campus, he spoke about the need we have to call out people when they say hurtful things to marginalized communities. I stand by that–it’s important to listen, but it’s also important to stand up for other people who have been historically marginalized and oppressed.

 

HC: Lastly, how can someone register to vote?

LM: Every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, College Dems has a table in Mason Hall or the Diag. We can give you a voter registration form, regardless of your party, and we can help you register to vote. You need to update your address if you’ve moved! The deadline to register is October 11th. If you need an absentee ballot, though, go to your county or city clerk’s website and get that in ASAP. Everyone on this campus should vote. When students and women vote, they tend to elect leaders who improve the way the country values women and marginalized populations.

 

Photo courtesy of Laura Marsh.

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