High hopes for the politically indifferent
How much do you know about any of the presidential candidates, other than the fact that Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are running?
Chances are, some Quinnipiac students do not know much more than this. According to Princeton Review’s Web site, princetonreview.com, Quinnipiac ranks as the No. 2 most politically apathetic school in the country.
Unsurprisingly, the QU Democrats and QU Republicans have not historically been the most popular student organizations on campus.
“I’ve been in it since my sophomore year,” said Nikki Therrien, senior gerontology major and president of the QU Democrats. “Sophomore year there weren’t that many people, maybe between seven and 10.”
Recently, however, membership has been increasing.
“Since the conception of the organization five years ago, the membership has steadily increased during each new academic year,” said Jenielle Alonso, a senior political science major and president of the QU Republicans. “As a co-founder of the organization, it is rewarding to see the amount of young people who are both eager to gather with fellow students who share similar ideals and their willingness to become involved on campus and throughout the state of Connecticut.”
This year, the two clubs are doing even better.
“We have five new members, so we increased 50% which is really good,” Therrien said. “The new people seem really dedicated and excited about what we’re going to be doing.”
While 15 members does not sound like much, considering other organizations have membership several times that of the political clubs, numbers like this are very good for this type of organization.
“I’d love to see a lot of people in the club, but the people who are in the club have become very close knit and we get a lot done,” Therrien said.
Alonso agrees, and says the same about the QU Republicans.
“Our success rests in the fact that we are friends first, and a cohesive team will always be able to work together to promote and achieve great things,” Alonso said.
Despite party differences and planning different events, the two clubs do not harbor animosity toward each other.
“The QU Democrats chairman contacted me with possible ideas and I look forward to working with her in order to promote political activity on campus,” Alonso said. “Our organization strives to promote political activism, regardless of party allegiance, in order to create a more aware and educated American citizen and voter.”
Throughout the school year, both organizations participate in several different events, both on and off campus.
“First semester we have a couple events in the works,” Therrien said. “We’re working on getting a mock election for the primaries, we’re excited about that. We’re also working on a service project. We’re going to do some kind of service project for the Hamden food bank.”
The spring semester tends to be bigger for the Democrats though.
“Our big events are next semester,” Therrien said. “We have the Day of Silence in April. We also volunteer at the Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner. Last year the people that went got to meet Nancy Pelosi.”
The QU Republicans also plan to be very busy this year.
“Events include a debate watch on Nov. 8, support our troops boxes, active involvement in the Gambardella for Hamden Mayor campaign, we hope to bring in a speaker to campus during which we will reveal more information, and we look forward to hosting a debate with the QU Democrats,” Alonso said.
While the organizations are seeing an increase in membership this year, and are planning several events, they have several things planned in anticipation for next year’s presidential election.
“This year we’re going to write newsletters and profile candidates so people are more well informed,” Therrien said. “Spring semester we’re going to have a forum with the Republicans introducing the candidates and debating a couple topics, and get organized for a big debate next year for the presidential election.”
Therrien hopes that some of the activities they have in regards to the election, such as the newsletters, raise political awareness and increase membership to both political organizations.
“Maybe if people read it and are more well informed they’ll join QU Democrats or QU Republicans just so they can stay on top of things and be interested in the election,” Therrien said.