College Democrats and Republicans fight negativity

Illustration by Rebecca Kottke

Illustration by Rebecca Kottke

Opposing political parties don’t always need to butt heads, as made evident by the College Democrats and College Republicans clubs at UMD.

Both clubs were founded with their respective political ideals in mind, with focus on registering college students to vote.

According to Brian Muhs, the president of the College Democrats club, the clubs “have a good working relationship.” The clubs operate with the understanding that they do not need to convince each other of right or wrong, but are instead able to have civil debates and keep the peace.

Isaac Benner, the vice president of the College Republicans club, said that “some people use [the clubs] as a place to find like minded individuals, where ideas are not shut down or claimed to be wrong as often as in the public sphere.”

The goal of the Republicans, according to Benner, is to develop the professional abilities of young conservatives, as well as promoting the conservative message across campus.

Aya Abuserrieh, the student affair outreach coordinator of the Republicans club, said that initially she joined the club in order to gain more political experience.

“We get to meet politicians, and having the opportunity to meet people in the political arena provides great learning opportunities and a chance for me to get my name out there,” Abuserrieh said.

“It’s so important for people to be united on campus,” Abuserrieh said. “A lot of people have misconceptions about conservative views, extreme or negative, and it’s important to have able to have open conversation and be open and understanding to all viewpoints.”

The point is not to make people agree with the clubs, but to attempt to convey their views in the hopes of building understanding and to educate others.

The Bipartisan Dunk Tank fundraiser raised money for both the Democrats and Republicans clubs. Photo courtesy of Isaac Benner

The Bipartisan Dunk Tank fundraiser raised money for both the Democrats and Republicans clubs. Photo courtesy of Isaac Benner

This past summer, the clubs did a bipartisan dunk tank fundraiser together at the Taste of Duluth festival that featured public figures such as Donna Bergstrom, a candidate for lieutenant governor, and Joe Radinovich, a congressional candidate. The fundraiser was meant to raise money for each individual club.

In a text interview, Morgan Campbell, a member of the Democrats club, said that the clubs have a great relationship, which is “really important.”

Campbell also addressed misconceptions about politics in the university environment and said that she would “really like to see our club be able to remove some of the negative notion around politics, at least on campus. While politics can be filled with negativity it can also be filled with a lot of positivity.”

Bella Maki, the vice president of the Democrats club, said that she believes that “students really do want to get involved, they just don’t have the pathway layed out in front of them to do it.”

This is a goal of both clubs: to make it easy and accessible for students and members of the community to be politically involved, especially in regards to voting.

“We want to turn out as many college students and young people to vote as possible,” Muhs said.

His goals as president of the Democrats club revolve mainly around turning non voters into voters, a goal shared by the Republicans.

The feeling of respect is mutual between both clubs. At the end of his interview, Benner left with a quote from the late Justice Antonin Scalia: “I attack ideas, I don’t attack people.”

The Democrats meet on Thursdays at 8 p.m. in the Gooseberry Falls Room, and the Republicans meet on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Garden Room.

CultureClare Cade