New College Democrats Chapter Forms at MITBy Sarah Y. Keightley
Seventy students met last Thursday to inaugurate the MIT chapter of the National College Democrats.
The club's immediate focus is supporting Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton's bid for the presidency. Every week the College Democrats organize "visibilities" along the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, in which people present campaign posters to oncoming traffic. "This offers a way for people to participate in the campaign that doesn't require much time," said Danielle C. Goodman '95.
At Thursday's meeting, David Levy, a representative from the Clinton campaign, spoke about phone-banking for the Massachusetts campaign. Phone-banking involves calling local registered voters to discuss the campaign and their voting preferences.
Goodman and Anneliese M. May '94 organized a voter registration drive at MIT which ends today. A state election commissioner came to campus on Saturday and Monday, and one will come today. About 40 to 60 people registered on Saturday, and 60 people registered on Monday, Goodman said. Today is the last day to register to vote in the November election in Massachusetts, she said.
"I'm pretty happy about [the registration drive]. It was a good thing to have," Goodman said. For many of the students that come from other states, it is too late to get absentee ballots, she said. This gives students a chance to vote by registering in Cambridge.
Long term plans for the College Democrats include bringing in speakers to cover political topics and working with the Harvard Democrat's Club, Goodman said. Goodman also said that as a political science major, she is often aware of activities going on, but with the club "speakers and activities can be accessible to a wider variety of people," including students in other majors.
Emily R. Prenner '93 said that the club might look into sponsoring a debate.
Prenner, Karen Kaplan '93, Goodman, and May are starting the club. According to Prenner, who is the club's temporary president, the club is awaiting official recognition by the Association of Student Activities.
Some club members have attended or participated in campaign-related activities around Boston and on campus, including Clinton's Sept. 25 speechat Faneuil Hall and President George Bush's appearance at a fundraising dinner last Friday.
MIT involved in nationwide event
On September 18, Clinton, Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Tipper Gore took part in National Student Mobilization Day, "the official kick-off [of] national campus registration drives," according to the Clinton campaign. Each of them spoke at a different university campus; Tipper Gore was at Boston University.
MIT joined in the festivities by holding a small rally outside the Student Center just after noon. Andrei M. G. Saunders '92 and Walter E. Babiec '94 spoke at the rally.
"Our role is to kick-off the campus activities for Bill Clinton -- to get students informed and aware of the issues," Babiec said.
"I think it was successful, even though there weren't tons of people. We were visible," said Clinton S. Bench '94. At least 20 students came, he said.
"I feel strongly about the success of organizations like these. Over the last 12 years with Reagan, then Bush in power, a lot of young people have lost the sense of what democracy is about," Bench said.
MIT rally organizers attributed the low turnout to the late time at which they found out about the NSMD. They did not have much time to publicize the event.
Saunders said he heard that the NSMD events at BU and Harvard were successful.
In his speech, Saunders "tried to stress that Bill Clinton and Al Gore are really in support of stronger education programs in this country."
"I think that although MIT is demanding time-wise, people should take the time to stop and think about the issues," he said. What goes on in Washington, D.C. affects students' lives, and we should think about that, he added.