Wearing a giant elephant on your shirt to the RNC has some pros and cons. On one hand you get approving nods from older (mostly white) passersby who are excited to see a young person of color who is presumably part of the grandest and oldest of parties. You can kind of blend in and don’t have to worry that the hundreds of cops roaming the streets will think you are a likely protester. On the other hand, when you try to observe a Black Lives Matter protest, you get boos from young people like you and questions of “How??” and “Why??” Our cohort spent much of our time explaining that we are a non-partisan civic engagement program. Not, the nation’s most diverse chapter of College Republicans. People were downright rude to us and would mutter comments as we passed by. Many of us were literally hiding the front of our shirts with whatever was available. Our cohort is very diverse and mainly female. Why is it so shocking for young people of color, mainly women, to identify with the Republican Party? This is a question the party needs to ask themselves. They seem to have realized that they are failing women and people of color, yet their response has been less than stellar. I see little designed to reach me or my fellow college students in the party platform or rhetoric. The millennial response to Bernie demonstrates that younger voters are interested and want to engage, they just are not finding anything in either party that really inspires them to action. I am a passionate Hillary supporter but I know many of my Democratic friends find Bernie the much more exciting option. I think both parties need to realize that young people are the voters of the future and worth investing in. Attention to issues like college affordability are key to exciting my demographic. The Clinton campaign seems to be realizing this and making clear efforts but I have seen little on the other side thus far. The bottom line is, if a young, engaged, group of diverse students wearing your symbol is met with disbelief, your party has a perception problem.

-Sophia Rossell

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