Now that the hard work of canvassing and campaigning for November’s election has passed, political groups on campus are looking to to capture interest during the political “off-season.”
Members of the Yale College Democrats and the Yale College Republicans said that, without the drama of election season, it can be difficult to get their fellow students passionate about local politics. Still, leaders of both organizations have planned a busy calendar of events for the semester, including local advocacy, lobbying on the state level and issue-specific debates on campus.
“What’s the point of electing all these great candidates if you’re not going to help them out in their agenda?” said Jacob Wasserman ’16, legislative coordinator for the Dems.
Wassermann added that he foresees a lot of campus excitement over the issues that the Dems will be tackling in the spring, including education and juvenile justice, budget and labor issues, healthcare and voting reform.
Within each of these areas, the group has specific plans for how they can take action on either a state or a local level, according to Rebecca Ellison ’15, the President of the Yale Dems.
One of the Dems’ main initiatives will be to provide support for a juvenile justice bill, which came close to passing in Connecticut last year, but didn’t make it through the state senate. Representatives from the Dems plan to travel to Hartford during the semester to help support this bill, as well as other state-wide issues that affect new Haven, such as protection of state tuition grants.
On a local level, the Dems plan to work with the board of alderman to support the upcoming Q House project — championed by Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12, chair of the board’s youth services committee — as well as promote the implementation of the affordable care act through panels to raise awareness, door to door visits to help New Haven residents register for healthcare and educating Yale students about the law.
The Yale College Republicans, who have traditionally not been as widely represented on campus, plan to expand their campus presence this semester through debate and discussion events. The events will be held in a similar style to the “Economics of Immigration” debate they hosted last semester with MEChA de Yale, a campus organization for Yale students of Chicano descent.
“I think it might be encouraging to see people get interested in politics in a nonelection year,” said Austin Schaefer ’15, chair of the College Republicans.
Beyond on-campus activity, the Republicans will start working with gubernatorial and congressional campaigns within the state this spring in preparation for the 2014 elections next fall.
Leaders from both groups said that an ongoing challenge has been maintaining high levels of campus interest in local politics, particularly during the off-season.
“One of the biggest problems I find is that Yale students have the perception that what happens outside of Yale doesn’t really affect them,” said Francisco Diez ’14, chair of the Liberal Party. Diez added that what may seem like the two separate communities of Yale and New Haven are actually a single community that must be aware of how connected it is.
“Overall, we want to engage as many people as possible in politics, and give people an avenue through which they can engage in local politics,” Ellison said.
Correction: Jan. 23
A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the Yale College Democrats as the Democratic Party.