The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Political passion outside of UI student’s career goals

Maci Arjes, a graduating University of Iowa senior, reflects on time participating in politics on and off campus.
Ryan Paris
Maci Arjes, the club secretary for UI College Republicans and VP of events for Turning Point USA, is seen at the Tippie College of Business in Iowa City, Iowa, on Tuesday April 23, 2024.

Despite her heavy involvement in the university’s political sphere, fourth-year University of Iowa student Maci Arjes, does not plan to pursue a political career after graduating this spring. Instead, Arjes engages in politics for fun.

Originally from Dumont, Iowa, Arjes’ interest comes at a time when most young people are disappointed by democracy. A fall 2023 Harvard Youth Poll found that Americans aged 18-to-29-years-old appear less likely to vote in 2024 than they did in 2020 — which was a recording-setting year for youth voter turnout.

Arjes, a business management major on the Human Resources track, does not want to enter politics professionally. However, she has been active in the conservative political groups College Republicans and Turning Point USA since her second year.

In the 2020 presidential election cycle, the number of young Americans between 18-29 years old who “definitely” plan on voting for president has decreased from 57 percent to 49 percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2020 turnout for Americans under 30 was 54.1 percent, with other estimates at 52.5 percent.

During the last half of her time at the UI, Arjes held executive positions in both organizations. She was club secretary for UI College Republicans and vice president of events for Turning Point USA.

Arjes’ passion for politics began at a young age. Growing up, she enjoyed watching presidential debates, even though she was too young to participate at the time, she wanted to be involved.

“I’ve always been engaged because when you understand politics, you want to advocate for change, but you also want this understanding [of] why things are done the way they are,” Arjes said.

In her time with the College Republicans, Arjes said she worked to create a more engaging atmosphere for politics on campus. She described her position as secretary as being the “glue” to ensure communication with political officials and communication between members of the organization.

Lena Branch, a UI fourth-year student and president of the UI Turning Point USA’s chapter, met Arjes during a tabling event for their respective organizations sophomore year.

The two have served on the executive board of Turning Point USA together since.

At the time, Branch had heard of Arjes and while the organizations were tabling, Branch saw how committed and outgoing Arjes was.

“She had no problem being extremely extroverted, not afraid of a challenge at all,” Branch said. “And so I was like, Yep, I want that girl to be alongside me. And so I just asked her and the rest is history.”

Branch then asked Arjes to join Turning Point USA, where Arjes started as a recruitment chair. Branch now serves as the organization’s president and described Arjes as her “right-hand man.”

“I’ve said to some people like if I was going to run for office, she would be my campaign manager because she knows how to talk to people,” Branch said.  “Overall, she’s an amazing asset to the organization, she’s an incredible student, she’s an amazing person as well. She’s just great to be around.”

Branch said Arjes helped build both organizations back up after struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On top of engaging politically on campus, Arjes breached into the political world outside of the UI by volunteering to help the campaign for Miller-Meeks and former President Donald Trump.

From July to January, she interned for the Trump campaign. In this position, she helped with door knocking, phone calls, and preparing people to caucus.

Near the end of her internship, Arjes spoke at a Trump rally in Coralville on Dec. 13, 2023. She estimated that she spoke in front of roughly 1,300 people.

Arjes said seeing that many people be so passionate about something and coming together to “make the world a better place” stuck out to her and gave her energy to stay involved in politics and ask questions about political candidates to get to the “nitty gritty” of who a person is.

RELATED: Iowa caucuses see record-low voter turnout

She also served as a caucus secretary for Trump during the Iowa caucuses in January, and said she continues to be involved in politics even though the process isn’t always fun.

“It’s not the most fun thing in the world, but if people don’t do that, then somebody doesn’t get elected,” Arjes said. “Your candidate does not get elected. So that kind of [is] what motivates me. If I knock on this door, I’m helping out who I want to win.”

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About the Contributor
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.