Columbia's clubs seek year-round activism

Friday, October 22, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:14 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Political involvement at Columbia College is a lot like the summer Olympic Games — it only occurs every four years.

“Every four years, everyone gets fired up about the issues, but the party-affiliated clubs die down between elections,” said Anthony Claypool, director of student activities at Columbia College. “It is not that we are not politically active on campus; we just have a lot of trouble keeping people involved.”

Temporary involvement

Some groups, such as the political science club and Students for Tolerance and Active Nonviolence Direction, constantly promote issues and activities, but most aggressive campaigning is done by partisan organizations that spring up every four years.

“The organization has been there, it just comes and goes,” said Jill Dudley, a sophomore secondary-education major, who is scrambling to reassemble the College Republicans.

The revamped College Republicans

This year, the political push bloomed late, with the newly formed College Republicans group making an effort to secure its standing as an official campus organization. Philip Marley, who works with development and alumni services at Columbia College, advises the group. He said he hopes it will continue after Nov. 2.

As president of the College Republicans, Dudley organized a “campus canvas” in which members went to the Columbia College residence halls to register students to vote, provide absentee ballots and poll students to see how many were leaning toward GOP candidates or Democratic ones.

Forum to serve as political motivator

To assess the overall political climate of the school, the group is organizing a mock debate-style forum, to be held Wednesday. It was planned in cooperation with the College Democrats, a group also in the stages of regaining status on campus.

“It will hopefully be a motivator to get people interested and to get them to realize how close the election is,” Dudley said.

The forum will explain the two parties’ positions, as well as the gubernatorial and presidential candidates’ stances on the issues of this election. It will give students an opportunity to have their questions and concerns answered with facts, Dudley said.

“I want it to be about the issues,” Dudley said. “I think it is important right now for people to hear what is going on and figure out what it is that each party and each candidate believes, and that people vote for their values.”

Members wanted

This year, the College Republicans have slightly fewer than 50 people interested in the organization, but only about 10 are active, Dudley said. She said she hopes to see those numbers improve.

“Hopefully we will be able to stay active,” Dudley said. “It is important to keep people informed about the Republican Party and on what the issues are, regardless of a campaigning season.”

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