A contentious election cycle is drawing out student supporters on the left and right, and the Rowan Democrats Club is aiming to be a space for political expression for all sides. The club is returning to campus after several less active semesters, this time looking to establish themselves permanently.
The club started out strong in 2007 during the first Obama campaign, but after the original members graduated, the club struggled to find new ones.
“Basically, once the membership faltered off, [past club officers] could barely get five or six members to come regularly,” said President Pete Sawan, a sophomore political science major. “That was basically the downfall of the club: the lack of interest.”
On Sept. 26, the club hosted its first event of the year. More than 35 students and one faculty member gathered in a library lecture hall for the first presidential debate watch party. The club president and his cabinet of student officers were pleased with the turnout.
“If we’re going to fix the partisan squalor, then we’re going to have to start now,” said Vice President Joe Miller, a mechanical engineering major. “We’re going to have to start with people our age so the next generation is less divided, more united.”
“Sitting back and not getting involved is not the answer.” – SECRETARY GERARD OBERLE
The Democrats are hoping to team up with the College Republicans to host events like debates, voter registration drives and even an election night party.
“Any sort of joint effort to spread the idea of getting involved in politics, no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, is essential to a healthy democracy,” Sawan said. “I think the problem today is that people feel so disinterested and dejected from the whole political process, we want people to realize your voice matters and if you put your mind to it, you can definitely make a change in government, or in any aspect of life.”
In order to be an SGA sanctioned club, the members must organize events each month and become involved in the community. Getting involved in the local political scene in Glassboro is one important platform of the club.
“Your local elections are going to affect your life a greater deal than the presidential election,” Miller said. “Your day-to-day life is going to be changed by your congressman, by your board of education, your councilmen and mayors.”
“YOU CAN HAVE OPEN DISCUSSIONS AND YOU CAN GET THINGS DONE WITHOUT HATING EACH OTHER.” – SECRETARY GERARD OBERLE
“Getting people interested and involved in politics and current issues, it’s activism in a sense,” said club secretary and political science major Gerard Oberle. “Sitting back and not getting involved is not the answer.”
Oberle would like to close the divide between democrats and republicans on campus.
“I think with the current environment in this election, it’s so extreme, the divisiveness, that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have open discussions and you can get things done without hating each other,” he said. “People hear about politics and they think ‘Oh god, if we talk about this it’s gonna get so bad,’ it doesn’t have to be so ‘left versus right’ and nasty.”
“Politics for some reason became taboo, and that’s turned a lot of people off…if you don’t like how the political system looks or how it is, the only way you’re going to change it is if you get involved in clubs like this,” Miller said. “Join the Republicans, join whoever you believe in, and make a difference.”
“It’s about creating a dialogue between people. You can’t sit there and wallow in your sorrows,” Sawan said. “Have your voice be heard. Creating a dialogue is essential here and I hope people realize joining any sort of political club will give them a platform to start that dialogue in any capacity.”
For comments/questions about this story, email email@example.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.