Yale Political Union

The Liberal Party of the Yale Political Union voted unanimously on Aug. 25 to rename itself the Yale Socialist Party.

Out of the party’s approximately ten active members, six chose to attend the vote, and all voted to rename the party, party chair Ian Moreau ’21 said. According to a party statement, the choice to change the party’s 85-year-old name was spurred by the desire to better represent the type of discourse they wish to contribute to the Union and the University, and was “informed by the changing nature of political discourse both on our campus and around the world.”

“We are not merely looking for liberty, we are looking for true liberation from the structures that bind us,” the statement reads. “We want a name that reflects not just our desire to pull discourse in the Union to the left, but also our commitment to challenging the economic and political status quo here at home, whether it is questioning Yale’s financial aid policies or the dearth of accountability in its police department.”

Should YPU leadership choose to officially recognize the Liberal Party as the Yale Socialist Party, this would mark the first time a YPU party has changed its name since 1984, said YPU Speaker Ryley Constable ’21. The party must also take steps to gain formal recognition for the name change from Yale for purposes of registration, administrative matters and funding, Moreau said. It will be working with its appointed student organizations consultant to “ensure that this is done in a timely manner,” he added.

For the Liberal Party to gain full recognition from the Union as the Socialist Party, the Union’s executive board must pass a motion with a simple majority, Constable said. If the motion passes, a simple majority of the YPU Rules Committee must then vote to amend Standing Rule 3 of the Union Constitution to reflect the name change.

Moreau explained that — from his understanding of the party’s history according to party documents from previous decades — there have always been “radical elements” present in the party, but it has not been dominated by members with socialist ideologies until recent years.

Former party chair Shaheer Malik ’20 stressed that the party has always been dynamic and open to ideological evolution, since it does not emphasize alumni ties and continuity as much as other parties in the Union.

The shift from the “Liberal Party” to the “Yale Socialist Party” reflects the party’s commitment to not working within the framework of the political establishment, but rather questioning and challenging the current political system and its structures, Moreau said. It also highlights the party’s commitment to “not just … detached discussion” but concrete action and activism, he added.

Kelsey Evans ’21, the party’s chief whip, said the new name “feels like a very necessary change,” even from just a recruitment standpoint.

“Even though it’s just a name, it is going to serve a bigger purpose in reinforcing our commitment to what we believe in and what we stand for and … [the party] being a place for what we actually believe in, which will make it a more open and comfortable space, I hope,” Evans said. “We feel it’s kind of necessary and time sensitive not to just sort of be resting under this label that we have now.”

Sid Carlson White ’21, a member of the party’s executive board, noted that the name change will hopefully allow people outside of the YPU to understand the ideological variety present within the Union, which he said is often perceived as “simply full of neoliberals or conservatives.” Beyond that, White added that it will give the party the chance to “specifically differentiate” itself from the “predominant center left” in Yale’s wider political discourse.

“The Yale Political Union remains the same organization it has been since 1934, committed to combatting political apathy through discourse and engagement,” said YPU President Milan Vivanco ’21. “The Liberal Party’s decision to change has been an internal process they have been considering for some time, and they have put a lot of thought into it, especially given the resurgence of the term ‘socialist’ in today’s political landscape.”

The Yale Political Union currently consists of seven parties.

Asha Prihar | asha.prihar@yale.edu

Asha Prihar served as managing editor of the News during the 2019-20 academic year. Before that, she covered community service, Yale's professional schools and undergraduate student life as a staff reporter. She is a senior in Silliman College studying political science.