Erect as a toothpick, with stiff fingers which rigidly and professionally sat lightly on crossed legs, Daniel Langley addressed my questions in a voice as precise and methodical as the steady tap-tap of cold heels that echoed past us through the Bowld Student Commons. His cadence matched the slow and steady scrawl of pencil as I continued to copy down the plethora of noteworthy phrases that spilled out of his mouth as persistently as smoke billows out of a factory pipe.
I was surprised to learn that behind gray dispassionate eyes, he fosters an intensity of drive so powerful that he is convinced that his band of ten (or so), self-promoting, self-funded and self-driven Unionite brothers and sisters who have christened themselves “Students for Rubio,” will play a vital role in placing their beloved candidate in the White House.
“The ultimate goal of this organization is to assist the Marco Rubio campaign in making sure that he is the Republican nominee for the GOP,” Graham Gardner, club member, said. “After that happens, I’m sure that the organization will continue to work to make sure that he is in the White House.”
Despite a location which falls indisputably at the heart of Cruz territory and a decline in Rubio support after the last Republican debate, Langley continues to put his countless hours of personal research to good use by fostering a student mentality that embraces a privilege to participate in our country’s politics.
“I would say Union is in the same boat as other schools,” Langley said. “For the most part our student body is vaguely aware of political tensions, but largely apathetic.”
Langley and other members of the club have, on the other hand, invested hours of their personal time and leisure in watching debates, closely following the election and personally investigating Rubio’s values and beliefs. In fact, Gardner has been following Rubio since before the election process began.
“[My friends and I] watched closely to see if he would run for president.” he said. “The day that he announced, my friends and I were all very excited.”
Members of the Students for Rubio organization are deeply aware of the political and social tensions which plague our country. Convinced that Rubio has distinguished himself from the other candidates by a exhibiting a worldview that is both “broader and more balanced” than that of his Republican counter-parts, Langley exhibited his wide range of knowledge about the campaign by touching on a variety of issues he believes are of vital importance including immigration, student debt, criminal justice, racial inequality and laws on abortion.
“I believe Rubio has a solid chance of winning the nomination because he has a larger breadth of support than other candidates,” Langley said. “Rubio cares about integrating immigrants and bringing them out of the shadows.”
“He is not the traditional old white politician who has grown up with a silver spoon in his mouth,” Gardner said. “His mom was a maid and his dad was a bartender. He is from humble means and worked to put himself through community college, university and law school. I think that connection with the middle class is his strength.”
As students we often refer to our Alma Mater as “The Union Bubble.” Our homogenous student body, rural local and conservative standards have the potential to make us feel as if we live in complete isolation from the outside world. Unlike many private schools we are not located at the heart of Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, and connecting with, let alone contributing to, national and international concerns feels daunting if not impossible. Aside from Greek Life, very few organizations on campus have an active and thriving connection with international chapters, making groups like this all the more remarkable for their far-reaching connections. Langley and members of the club are part of a nationwide organization and are actively involved in coordinating phone banks and bringing in chairmen from the campaign.
“It is such a God-given blessing to live in a country where we get to have a say in political offices,” Gardner said. “I think that the presidential elections are very important, and that people, especially young people, should take voting as a responsibility. Historical figures have given up a lot, some even their lives, so that we could have this right.”
So whether your vision is to put Rubio in the White House, help Union “feel the Bern” or join hands with any other political or non-political chapter in our country, Students for Rubio stands as a stark reminder that as students we are not limited by or confined inside the “Union Bubble” and that even a fledgling group of ten people can join hands with chapters across the nation in hopes of making their mark in issues of national importance.