With the 2004 Presidential Election quickly approaching, the Yale College Democrats have begun a new program to unite liberal groups across campus.

Drawing from several different activist groups, the Progressive Coalition had its first meeting Monday evening with seven groups and more than 30 members present. The group will work create a forum to unite and educate Democrats and activist groups across campus.

“The upcoming election offers a rare opportunity for all liberal groups to focus on one thing they all emphatically agree on: the desperate need for us to reach out to people on campus.” Amia Srinivasan ’07, campaigns coordinator for the Dems said.

The Dems were inspired by the national Democratic Party, which has been making an effort to reach out to activist groups, Srinivasan said. Daniel Weeks ’06, head of Students for Clean Elections said liberals need to unite if they are to compete with conservatives.

“It’s about time we progressives got organized, as the Republicans have so successfully,” he said.

Club heads and representatives from seven groups attended the meeting, including the Undergraduate Organizing Committee, Students for Clean Elections, Black Student Alliance at Yale, Environmental Justice, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlan or MEChA, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Cooperative. Each of the club heads gave a brief introduction of what their group does and what they hoped to gain from the Progressive Coalition. Afterwards, everyone joined in a discussion about future plans and activities.

Alissa Stollwerk ’06, secretary for the Dems, said the goal of the coalition is to foster education among the diverse groups. Groups such as BSAY and the Dems can discuss topics such as Kerry’s stance on racial issues and then the Dems can spread that knowledge to other people on campus, said Stollwerk.

“Instead of just paying lip service, we want to have actual connections with activist groups,” Stollwerk said.

Nazneen Mehta ’06, campus coordinator for the Dems, said as a member of both political and activist groups, she hopes to bridge the gap and unite the two. She said though both are liberal, there is “skepticism of political parties in activist groups”.

“Instead of having compartmentalized groups, we want to work towards a broader social movement,” Mehta said.

Emerson Davis ’06, a representative from BSAY, said he looks forward to expanding BSAY beyond Yale.

“It’s good to have the Yale Dems as a resource for national politics,” Davis said. “They really know the ins and outs of the political structure which helps since we’re usually focused on the Yale community.”

Other club heads said they felt optimistic about the future of the coalition.

“I’m very hopeful for the possibility of a broad-based liberal community,” Julia Gonzales ’06, head of MEChA said.