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The Young Democrats at Seattle University seem oddly quiet about this year’s presidential election. In such an important season, one would think they would be fighting hard for their party’s platform. One potential reason for the perceived radio-silence? The Young Democrats don’t seem to exist.
The Young Democrats and College Republicans are national organizations for college and university students who wish to actively support their respective parties’ platforms, acting in both a recruiting and informational capacity. These clubs have strong presences at most universities.
“For as long as I can remember working here, I don’t recall ever seeing the Young Democrats on campus,” said AndrewTadie, the faculty adviser for the College Republicans at Seattle U.
According to the group’s website, the Seattle U Young Democrats (SUYD) held their last event on August 11, 2001 at the Young Democrats National Convention in Tucson, Ariz.
“They have not existed as a club as far as I know since my freshman year, 2008, when the Young [Democrats] was run by the ex-girlfriend of the president of College [Republicans],” said Dominic Micco, the former president of Seattle U’s College Republicans. Micco is a recent graduate.
According to Micco, the general problem for any political club on campus is the lack of student interest.
The president of Political Science Club, however, does not agree with his assessment.
“I’ve actually been surprised by the amount of political involvement on campus this year. The election really helps to bring out political interest,” said Aly Girton, a junior majoring in political science at Seattle U.
Given the lack of a competitive drive between the Young Democrats and College Republicans, the Political Science Club aims creates a middle ground for students to be able to stand on either platform and be involved in political discussion and debate.
If Girton could have her way, neither partisan club would exist. “They tend to be less inclusive and aren’t able to foster the same level of debate,” she said. “Not having [them] encourages more open discourse.”
For Micco, the absence of the Young Democrats was bittersweet during his presidency of the College Republicans.
“It felt great that the College [Republicans] had been able to live on while the Young [Democrats] stopped being a club,” he said. “We had survived, and it was a small victory, but at the same time, it would have been nice having them around.”
Micco adds that his group would have enjoyed engaging in argument with the Young Democrats at club fairs and to be able to collaborate on events.
What’s more, it’s not just Micco who would like to see the clubs maintain a stronger presence on campus. Some students agree there should be two clubs on campus that represent the opposing parties so that they can be informed about the different platforms, especially for those who don’t identity with a certain party.
The current College Republicans were not present at a recent club fair. However, the group has been seen actively tabling at C-Street within the last two weeks.
“I would say that you need two different clubs for two different [parties] because people really need to learn about what’s going on,” said Joanna Hatter, a senior majoring in computer science. “Because depending on who’s running in the election, I may be a conservative Democrat or a liberal Republican.”
Needless to say, the desire to be informed about the different political platforms poses a problem to students when only one of the parties has a presence campus. The reason behind the apparent disappearance of the Young Democrats may be answered by looking at the demographics.
According to Micco, the campus demographics pose a problem for the Young Democrats to be active in an already liberal city.
“Seattle being so liberal makes it harder for the Young [Democrats]. It works against them,” he said. “Yet with the College [Republicans] having to survive in a sometimes hostile [environment], and other times [being ignored], helped bring out the true, passionate Republicans.”
The College Republicans describes themselves as “a club devoted to promoting conservative values, helping elect Republican candidates, and serving as a conservative voice in a liberal state,” according to their page on Seattle U’s Student Activities website.
Though no one could attest to it, the general purpose of the Young Democrats, according to its website, is to “promote political awareness and activism on the Seattle University campus. By involving ourselves in activism, inviting local politicians to speak and debate, and through educational activities, we hope to foster in SU students a life-long commitment to public service and social justice.”
Perhaps if Mitt Romney or Rob McKenna manage to seize victory in the upcoming election students might just see the Young Democrats emerge from their extended hibernation.
Chelsee may be reached at email@example.com