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Democrat Club Makes Debut

By Orli G. Bahcall

The MIT College Democrats club made its debut on campus with its first general meeting last week. "Our main goal is to increase political awareness and political involvement at MIT," said Monisha M. Merchant '99, the club's co-president.

Areej Hassan '99, the other co-president, agreed. "We have found that most MIT students are pretty apathetic when it comes to politics," she said.

In an effort to increase political awareness, the club plans to invite Democratic speakers to MIT, said Andrew W. Howard '98, treasurer and director of party affairs.

"The first thing that we noticed during the activities midway, after we passed by the Republican Club booth," was the definite absence of an active Democratic group on campus, Hassan said. There is no central advocate for Democrats on campus, he added.

While the club wants "to get as many Democrats involved," in politics on campus as possible, "we [would] be just as happy if more people - regardless of their party affiliation - get involved," Merchant said.

To increase political participation on campus, the College Democrats will encourage discussion between the existing Republican club and Libertarian club.

Other plans include starting "dialogue and debate between groups and individuals that tend to take different stands on issues," Howard said.

Some of "our specific plans include starting a voter registration project," Hassan said. While most students are of voting age, many have not yet registered to vote, he said.

The College Democrats are also working to organize an on-campus debate this fall between Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Republican Governor William F. Weld for the Massachusetts senatorial race, Merchant said.

"I have been involved with Democratic politics for some time now, and the prime reason for forming this new group is the upcoming presidential election. Politics is going to be a bigger issue [on campus] in the coming year." This will be both a driving force for the group and motivation for students to become involved in politics, Howard said.

"We will also try to get involved in Democratic campaigns and support [not only campaigns but the] issues themselves," Howard said.

The Democrats Club is working to affiliate itself with the Massachusetts state coalition of the Democratic party, as well as the College Democrats of America, Hassan said.

Democrats of America is a national political organization that networks all the college Democrat organizations. Some members of the Democrat Club plan to attend that organization's New England regional conference held at Brown University over Patriot's Day weekend, Hassan said.

The College Democrats have also made contact with and gotten support from the Democratic National Party to establish connections, Hassan said.