Brandywine SGA representatives get involved at Fair Districts PA meeting

MEDIA, Pa. — At the University’s November Council of Commonwealth Student Governments meeting (CCSG), student representatives were encouraged to get involved in local political movements. Two Penn State Brandywine students, Kevin Cauley and Tommy Iacono, have taken that advice to heart.

Cauley and Iacono serve as the governmental affairs overseer and chair, respectively, of Brandywine’s Student Government Association (SGA). They immediately recognized an opportunity to tailor the CCSG proposal to the local issues surrounding Penn State Brandywine.

“They asked us to do legislative outreach, but they didn’t dictate how or where we should get involved,” said Cauley. “The Commonwealth Campuses are spread across the state, so most of the CCSG attendees face their own unique sets of political concerns based on their locations.”

Cauley and Iacono began to look more closely at the political issues in Delaware County. Their research led them to attend a Fair Districts PA meeting at West Chester Henderson High School.

According to its website, Fair Districts PA is a statewide coalition of citizens and organizations working to combat gerrymandering —the manipulation of voter district boundaries to favor one political party or subset of the population.

The meeting, which was attended by approximately 600 people, focused on informing the public about redistricting issues and supporting potential solutions. Pennsylvania Senator Andrew Dinniman of Chester County, for instance, has publicly backed Senate Bill 22, legislation which calls for the establishment of an independent, 11-person committee to draw Pennsylvania’s districts.

Cauley cited the issue’s non-partisan and practical significance as one reason that he and Iacono decided to attend the meeting.  

“Ending gerrymandering is an issue everyone can get behind,” he said. “It’s something that people of all parties and independents can recognize as a danger to democracy.”

According to Fair Districts PA, gerrymandering misrepresents local voter populations, makes it harder to hold elected officials accountable and often leads to political gridlock and party polarization. The issue is also very relevant to Pennsylvania voters specifically. In a recent national survey, Pennsylvania was ranked 40th in the country for proper representation of its population.

“Our state is the third most gerrymandered state in the country, behind North Carolina and Wisconsin,” said Cauley. “And the congressional district in which Brandywine is situated is the most gerrymandered district in the state.”

Cauley and Iacono hope to educate their fellow students about the issue and stay connected with Fair Districts PA, continuing the conversation about districting laws on a grassroots level.

“I’m in contact with Fair Districts PA – Chester County, a subchapter of the group we attended,” said Cauley. “We’re hoping to bring a representative to campus to speak on the issue very soon.”