Partisan Clubs Sweat Out Summer
July 25, 2004 12:47 PM
Westly McGaughey waited for 30 minutes outside the Malcolm X plaza one summer evening, expecting to meet with fellow college-aged Democrats to brainstorm ideas on how to get George W. Bush out of the White House. No one showed up.
For McGaughey, 22, who spent the summer activating the newly formed College Democrats club, this was one example of miscommunication in the political arena. “I left work early, made a few calls and was surprised that no one showed up. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
Many students typically spend their summer break taking classes, going on vacation or working to earn extra income. A number of others, however, are active members of political groups on campus that have been working grueling schedules to have their chosen presidential hopeful elected this coming November.
Historically, SF State has been a politically active campus. In 1968, students held protests against the Vietnam War, which eventually led Vietnam War, which eventually led to the creation of the Ethnic Studies department. Earlier this year, an estimated 1,500 students held a walk out in protest of the school budget cuts agreed to by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California State University (CSU) Chancellor Charles B. Reed.
The campus is known internationally for its diverse population of both students and opinions, which is evident through organizations running the gamut – from the College Republicans to the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and the now defunct Campus Green Party. Others, including the Students Against War and the newly formed College Democrats club, all vie for the attention and votes of students at SF State.
The 160-member strong College Republicans have endorsed the reelection of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for the November ballot.
Political science major Carlos Zepeda, 21, spent his summer campaigning for the Bush-Cheney team and is also in charge of member recruitment on campus.
“There hasn’t been much activity this summer on campus, but many of our members have been volunteering for the Bush campaign,” said Zepeda. “For the fall, we’re trying to get (Democratic Senator Barbara) Boxer to debate against her Republican opponent at SF State by October,” he said.
“For the first couple of weeks, there’ll be a focus on recruitment because there are new freshmen students,” said Zepeda. “I’d like people to vote for Bush, of course, but I can’t change anyone’s mind,” he said.
The GOP platform opposes same-sex marriage, and supports the continuation of Iraqi occupation, creating jobs through the “Jobs & Growth” bill as well as increasing military spending by $15.3 billion.
The College Democrats have endorsed Sen. John Kerry for president. McGaughey claims many college students should invest their vote in Kerry for many reasons.
“I was surprised and extremely frightened that SF State didn’t have a Democratic club,” said McGaughey. “After the (fall) session starts, we’re going to focus on member recruitment. We already have a web graphics designer, we’ll hold summer fundraisers and it’s an election year, so public endorsements,” he said.
In the heat of the SF mayoral race, the Campus Green Party led efforts to elect San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez.
After Supervisor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, defeated Gonzalez in a close race, former Campus Green President and Gonzalez Intern Grant Donnelly decided not to continue his involvement with the organization.
“I was just burnt out working with the Matt Gonzalez campaign and my energy was spent,” said Donnelly. “No one else picked up afterwards and I wasn’t interested anymore. The Greens are still important but not as viable,” he said.
Officially, the San Francisco Green Party endorsed David Cobb, a Texas lawyer, and Pat LaMarche, a talk radio disc jockey, for president and vice president.
The Green platform calls for immediately ending the occupation in Iraq, creating a living wage for all and eliminating the U.S. dependency on Middle Eastern oil through an energy policy which includes wind, solar and biodiesel technologies.
David Russitano, a student and organizer with the International Socialist Organization, has been working with fellow ISO members this summer to collect the 200,000 signatures needed to have their endorsement Nader on the Calif. ballot by Aug. 6.
“We need to defend his right to run and get him on the ballot,” said Russitano, to a group of mostly SF State students during a summer ISO meeting in mid July.
The Nader platform includes: increasing diversity in the workforce through affirmative action, and creating a seven-point plan to end poverty in the United States, which includes equal pay for women and holding many corporations responsible for fraud and employer abuse.
Calls and e-mails sent by Xpress to the Students Against War organization were not returned by press time. SAW was heavily involved in leading antiwar and anti Bush demonstrations at SF State throughout the past years.
Though all campus organizations have differing ideologies on the upcoming elections, Zepeda believes college students should register to vote and be active with the political process.
“People our age think politics doesn’t affect them, but it does,” said Zepeda. “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the important thing is to just vote.”
For more information on the Cobb-LaMarche campaign visit, votecobb.org
For mote information on the Nader-Camejo campaign visit, www.votenader.org
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