Three University of Wisconsin students are running Gloria Reyes’ mayoral campaign, and they encourage more students to get involved in elections.

UW senior Isaac Owen serves as Reyes’ Community Engagement Lead, UW junior Dante de la Rosa serves as Press Director and UW junior Chandra Chouhan serves as Campaign Manager.

In addition to their efforts to elect Reyes as the first Madison Mayor of color, they also said they want to make the UW campus more involved in Madison’s local elections.

“UW is located in the very center of Madison and yet we are completely disconnected from city government,” Chouhan said. “That lack of transparency and engagement needs to change – it’s time that we stop talking about it and we actually change it.”

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Owen also emphasized the importance and voting power that student bodies have, saying students decide elections frequently. Not only do they decide elections, Owen said, but students are also the ones that will determine how the world runs politically, commercially and socially.

De la Rosa and Chouhan also said there are barriers as students of color involved in politics, and they have faced issues campaigning for a woman of color at a primarily white institution.

“Being students of color and having a candidate that is a person of color, I think that we face barriers on campus with students or organizations that have politicized the fact that she is a person of color, which is unfortunate,” de la Rosa said. “Students are often misinformed about local elections and the ones that are informed, we do face barriers with because we have a candidate of color.”

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Owen, Chouhan and de la Rosa also said there are strengths and weaknesses of being students while running a mayoral campaign, and said their main weakness is perception, while one of their main strengths is a commitment to continue learning.

De la Rosa said people often perceive young people in higher positions and how they are often seen as unqualified.

But Owen said students offer another, newer perspective. He said people who have been out of school for years can get stuck in their ways, which hinders their ability to be open and able to change.

“If you want to run a progressive campaign for a progressive candidate, you have to be willing to question the things that are innately true about our society, whether they actually are the best for the members of our society, and be willing to think outside of the box and grow changes to them,” Owen said. “For students. I think this is something that we do every day – this is what it means to be a student.”