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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Ithaca College political clubs host forum to bolster membership

Ithaca College’s four political organizations hosted a forum aimed at bolstering club membership and helping interested students better understand which clubs’ ideology best aligns with their personal political stance.

IC Young Americans for Liberty, IC Progressives, Ithaca College Democrats and IC Republicans hosted the event Nov. 4. A representative from each club gave a brief presentation with an overview of their club to prospective members, followed by a Q&A session where around 25 audience members were encouraged to ask questions to club leaders.  

Catherine Proulx, co-chairwoman of IC Progressives, said her club is the furthest left political organization at the college.

“We are a group of greens, environmentalists, socialists, communists, feminists and other concerned students who are tired of corporate-dominated politics,” Proulx said.

Proulx said IC Progressives, which does not endorse any particular party or candidate, seeks to better the world through 10 core values, including grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom and respect for diversity.

She said IC Progressives is now focused on the divestment movement, which involves the removal of monetary investments from fossil fuel companies. Additionally, Proulx said, they plan to continue giving attention to workers’ rights and the living wage in Tompkins County. IC Progressives will also continue supporting the POC at IC movement, she said. The club is also responsible for the Greens Theatre Project, a theater for social justice project run by the club, she said.

James Dellasala, co-president of Ithaca College Democrats, said while his club represents many of the same groups as IC Progressives, Ithaca College Democrats places its focus on broader political values on a national level.

Ithaca College Democrats plans to actively reach out to the student community with voter registration drives planned in preparation for the upcoming 2016 elections, Dellasala said.

IC Young Americans for Liberty was started this semester by senior Sean Themea, making it the newest political club on campus. Like IC Progressives, ICYAL is not affiliated with a specific candidate or party. Instead, Themea said it aims to promote, spread and empower the ideas of liberty.

Themea said ICYAL will also provide opportunities for its members to get involved in the community. Currently, Themea said they are looking to secure funding from the Student Government Association to pay for trips to Washington, D.C., in February, where he said club members would have the chance to meet libertarian candidates and go on trips to state political conventions. Themea said the club will also raise funds and volunteer for Loaves and Fishes, a local soup kitchen.

While ICYAL is a libertarian organization, IC Republicans is a more traditional group.

Sophomore Kyle Stewart, president of IC Republicans, said despite being a conservative organization, IC Republicans’ political views do not always align with those of the Republican Party at large.

“I think what you’ll find with college Republicans is that we have much different views on a lot of topics than you would think standard Republicans would have,” Stewart said. “We’re not Donald Trump, and we’re not the people you see representing the Republican Party right now. We have much different views.”

Stewart said IC Republicans will place an emphasis on education, activism and volunteerism this academic year. IC Republicans wants to bring speakers on campus to create dialogue on important issues, Stewart said. The club will also be invested in networking with alumni, going to political conferences and working to build a stronger relationship with College Republicans chapters at Cornell University and around New York state, he said.

During the panel Q&A session, students asked the club leaders about their stances on topics like drone warfare, common core testing and liberal bias on college campuses.

Sophomore Bridget Coonan said she enjoyed the event.

“Especially with the election coming up I thought it would be really important to come and get a better idea of what the different parties are. I really enjoy how these four were able to come together to one forum and have an information session but also … a debate,” Coonan said. I absolutely support the coming together of different ideologies on campus.

Jonah Swiatek can be reached at jswiatek@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @jonahswi