On Monday, the University Democrats officially endorsed Hillary Clinton for president of the United States in the upcoming November election.
The organization released an official statement on its Facebook page explaining its decision. The statement notes the University Democrats executive board unanimously voted to support Clinton, contrasting with the College Republicans’ 67-63 vote to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump.
University Democrats Vice President Brett Curtis said the organization does not take the decision of endorsements lightly.
“We gave fair consideration to all candidates that will be on the ballot this November,” Curtis said in an email statement. “Clinton is not only the most qualified candidate in this race, but she has the experience and policy goals to accomplish great things for this country.”
In its official statement, the University Democrats said it based its decision to support Clinton on her various policy objectives. Specifically, the group highlighted Clinton’s dedication to policies concerning increased minimum wage and the equality of women and LGBTQ individuals. The statement also cites Clinton’s support for specific college issues such as alleviating student debt and decreasing costs of attendance.
Overall, the University Democrats’ statement describes its support for Clinton in context of a wider progressive movement.
“These forthcoming achievements, among countless others, will keep this country on the progressive track Democrats have fought for these past eight years,” the statement read. “And they stand in stark contrast to what the Republican Party and their presidential candidate are offering the American people.”
Curtis also expressed the organization’s excitement regarding the nomination of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as Clinton’s running mate.
“University Democrats and our members have been campaigning, canvassing and otherwise supporting Sen. Kaine since he was first elected to public office back in 1984,” Curtis said. “We cannot wait to have another vice president from Virginia.”
The University Democrats went after College Republicans’ endorsement of Trump in their announcement.
“We view the U.Va. College Republicans’ endorsement of Trump as cowardly, choosing party over country and a disappointment to our students,” the statement read. “Trump’s ideals do not fall in line with those at the University of Virginia.”
College Republicans Chair Joanna Ro, a fourth-year College student, said she felt these sentiments did not align with the purpose of a presidential endorsement.
“That was a statement about their endorsement, so I don’t know why we were brought into it. It was unnecessary,” Ro said. “It is one thing to disagree with someone else’s endorsement for president, but it is another to go out of their way to attack someone, especially in an official statement.”
Ro also said the College Republicans have significant reservations about a potential Clinton presidency.
“At our meeting regarding our endorsement of Donald Trump, a lot of the points that were brought up were that we would rather have Trump than Hillary, so clearly we have reservations about her,” Ro said. “This election cycle isn’t ideal, but we are making the best of what we have, and what we have right now is Donald Trump.”