Villanova Students Establish Students Demand Action Chapter on Campus

Grant Carter Co-Culture Editor

Despite the uncertainties that loom over the University community, as students and faculty prepare to return to an altered on-campus reality this month, one thing remains absolutely certain: The U.S. Presidential Election is quickly approaching, and it is bound to be a climatic event in an already very turbulent year. 

Especially since the 2018 midterm elections, voter turnout has become a paramount issue within the American political atmosphere, to the point of spawning a new branch of political activism altogether. Voter turnout has become an especially popular topic among younger voters, because for many students across the nation including those at the University the upcoming presidential election will mark a first opportunity to participate in a major election. 

Recently, three students Rising sophomores Anna O’Keefe, Catherine Kemnitz and Caroline MacLaren launched a Villanova chapter of Students Demand Action, a social media initiative created to ensure that eligible students have a voice in U.S. elections. 

The Villanovan reached out to O’Keefe to learn more about the University’s new SDA chapter.


The Villanovan: To begin, why did you choose to start this project now, and what role do you see it playing on-campus going forward?


Students Demand Action Villanova: The main reason we started this organization is because I (Anna O’Keefe) am interning for Students Demand Action PA this Summer on a voter registration campaign. I was highly encouraged by my internship to start a chapter at Villanova, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I reached out to Caroline McClaren and Catherine Kemnitz (both my Kappa Delta sorority sisters) who I knew were equally passionate about igniting change and uniting students to vote, and we got the ball rolling. Because the youth vote has such a great influence in Pennsylvania, we felt like our organization could help to educate Villanovans on important political issues and encourage them to not only vote, but to do so in Pennsylvania, where every vote especially carries a lot of weight.


Up until November 3rd, we plan to sponsor and host events and discussions that will keep voters engaged. Additionally, we will continue to create content that will inform all Villanovans about the voter registration process and common-sense gun safety. But, this group is not just for the November elections. After November 3rd, we plan to continue to stay engaged with the Villanova community to ensure that our elected officials support common-sense gun legislation.


TV: Was gun control an issue that you specifically had in mind when you decided to start the Villanova SDA Chapter?


SDAV: So you may not know this, but Students Demand Action was created by Everytown for Gun Safety following the Parkland school shooting. Everytown wanted a way to keep students engaged in order to enable them to elect candidates who support common-sense gun legislation. Nationally, Students Demand is focusing on voter registration right now as a method to uniting student voters and ultimately election candidates who support gun reform.


TV: What sort of events are you specifically planning to host this semester and when?


SDAV: I think we plan on hosting Zoom discussions to educate students and others in the area about local political candidates, as well as educate them about absentee voting and dealing with that paperwork. Additionally, we will be hosting phone banks with Student Demand PA to encourage voting-age students to get registered and show up the polls!


TV: For students who might want to keep up or get involved with SDA on-campus, where would you direct them?

SDAV: Tell them to fill out the interest form in our bio on Instagram, @sdavillanova, to get added to our email list!