Since at least 2010, the presidents of both organizations have voluntarily decided to live together on campus. The tradition took a brief break in 2012 when the leaders of both parties were of the opposite sex and couldn’t live under one roof.
Now the tradition is back! Marc Reiter is president of the UIS College Democrats and Jeff Wilhite is chairman of the UIS College Republicans. Both are junior political science majors and roommates in a campus townhouse.
“Sometimes we have ‘polite’ discussions on a variety of issues, and sometimes we get a little loud,” said Reiter.
Living together has its advantages. The roommates are right across the hall from each other and can easily communicate different ideas and begin projects at home.
“Anytime we want to have a meeting, we can just open the door,” said Reiter.
The bipartisan household is prone to heated discussions, especially on issues such as taxes, but they don’t limit their debates to politics.
“Sports, politics, anything,” said Wilhite.
The pair has even gotten their fellow roommates involved in their passion for politics. They attend both Reiter’s College Democrats meetings and Wilhite’s College Republican meetings just to be fair.
Reiter and Wilhite have learned a lot from being politically involved and heading the organizations has giving them great experience for the future.
“Most people don’t realize how involved they could be in politics if they wanted to,” said Wilhite. “Just by joining one of these clubs you can meet the Lieutenant Governor, Tom Cross, Congressmen. There are so many chances to network and connect with people.”
The two groups helped with the recent “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” event on campus, as well as held a voter registration drive. Next, they’ve got their eyes set on a fundraiser and hosting a debate or two.
“We’ll both tell you that we do a lot of stuff on campus, we co-sponsor, and we keep it pretty active. There’s always stuff to do,” said Reiter.
Story by Paige Heiser, UIS Marketing