Fliers and signs are strewn throughout campus, touting political messages and candidates. With all of the activism on campus, student organizations are torn between endorsing a candidate and trying to best serve their members.
“The Institution of Hillel is a 501-(c)3 nonprofit organization, which means we’re not allowed to endorse any candidates,” said Judah Ferst, the program director of Hillel at Temple.
“There’s a difference between Hillel the institution and Hillel the organization,” Ferst said. “I would advise the student group of Hillel to stay away from political ties because there are Jewish students on campus who are Republican and some who are Democrats, and in the interest of serving all of those students, it’s best not to alienate any side.”
“We don’t endorse candidates as student leadership, but individually, we can do whatever we want. Hillel only promotes Jewish life on campus,” said Matan Silberstein, president of Hillel.
Some student organizations try to remain completely impartial. However, some groups will promote different ideas other than the views of Democrats and Republicans to promote more of their organizations’ beliefs.
“I don’t think our national group supports a political candidate, so we’re not supposed to,” said Aram Dagavarian, president of the Student Peace Alliance. “However, I think they encourage voter awareness in terms of showing how either candidate voted on specific issues.”
Dagavarian said most of the students in SPA are affiliated with specific political parties, but the group as a whole doesn’t choose to endorse a candidate.
Students for Environmental Action has also chosen not to endorse a candidate this election season.
“As an organization, we do get involved in encouraging people to vote, however, we are not allowed to endorse a political candidate, and I don’t think any non-political student group can,” said Jessica Gruber, president of SEA. “The school doesn’t want to endorse any political candidates because they don’t want to seem like they support any one candidate. They would like to remain impartial.”
Gruber, a junior environmental studies major, added the group is political in the sense of following what candidates talk about in regards to the environment.
“My personal opinion is that I don’t think that any group would be able to endorse political candidates, unless the group was affiliated with a specific party,” said senior civil engineering major Kyle Goldstein, who is a member of SEA.
Goldstein said most of the group’s members are Democrats, but the organization itself doesn’t have an affiliation with one party or another.
Even newly formed student organizations are trying to keep politics out of their agendas. TUComedy, a group currently in the process of being a registered organization, is choosing not to endorse political candidates.
“Endorsing a political candidate is not something our group has anything necessarily to do with,” said Aaron Miller, co-founder and co-president of TUComedy.
Miller, a sophomore advertising major, said group members have their own opinions and they are not trying to use the organization as an outlet to express their political ideas.
“I guess you could say that we would cater to the candidate that would be the funniest to give us the most student material. I mean, sarcasm can’t be really picked up in paper.”
Emily Tenenbaum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.