Campus clubs extend political outreach for students

Oct. 27, 2014

Nick Beadleston
[email protected]

As November voting approaches, many students will be considering which political party best represents their views. UCCS has two student political clubs.


College Republicans, chaired by Ivy El-Zaatari, is, according to their charter, a “Community of Conservatively-minded college students that focuses on policy and politics.”

The club is comprised of members from across the Republican spectrum, from tea party conservatives to more liberal Republicans in Name Only.

“We’ve got a lot of different dynamics going on,” El-Zaatari said.

The group meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., alternatively on and off campus. They have local Republican politicians, like Colorado District 5 Commissioner Peggy Littleton and Colorado Sen. Owen Hill, come speak.

El-Zaatari said the club also goes to restaurants to watch sporting events and on recreational shooting trips. This semester, the club has started having internal debates on different political issues.

“It’s nice because you’ll get different views from the same political platform,” Al-Zaatari said. “Working on a two party system, it’s very hard to have your own differentiated ideals. But we do, and we like to celebrate them.”

For members of College Republicans, joining their club is less about agreeing with all their ideals, and more about avoiding unintentionally strengthening the left.

“Usually when Libertarians vote for the Libertarian candidate, eliminating votes from the Republican candidate, it usually allows the Democrat to win,” El-Zaatari said.

“We welcome Libertarians, Democrats, everybody to come to our meetings, especially when we’re debating,” El-Zaatari added. “It helps you solidify what you believe in.”

In addition to debates and outings, the club also has an active political component. 10 members of the club, including El-Zaatari, are working on the Senate campaign for Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner.

For more information about the club and meeting locations, students can visit Young Americans for Liberty represents political ideologies both including and outside those represented by the two-party system.

“I am a registered Republican, however that does not mean that I always agree with how my party handles things,” said club member Chris Kasperski. “Joining YAL combines the best positions of both Liberals and Conservatives and brings a philosophy forward that is much more of a Libertarian feel.”

“Our mission here at UCCS … is to promote the simple concept of individual liberty,” Kasperski added. “As a political science student, I felt that it would be benefi cial to me to seek out an organization that appeals to my political attitudes.”

The club meets Tuesdays at 5 p.m. in the University Center or Centennial Hall. Locations vary.

Will Smith, chapter chair, said meetings usually consist of a discussion after watching a film. He indicated members’ political affiliations range from classical conservatives to liberals to anarchists.

Despite political differences, the unifying view of YAL members seems to be an open-minded stance toward individuals’ social and fiscal behavior.

“Everyone should be able to do what they want with their money and in their bedrooms,” said Smith.

YAL has brought several third-party Colorado candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Matthew Hess, to campus to speak to their club.

Smith said his club and College Republicans plan to host a debate early next year. It will also be sending members to the International Students for Liberty conference in Washington D.C., in February 2015.

“Eventually we need to stand up together and say enough is enough and we are taking our country back,” Kasperski said. “I think it is our generation who is poised to do just that.”

Interested students can find more information at facebook. com/yaluccs.

UCCS does not have a student club which represents the Democratic Party this semester, though it has in the past.

Both Smith and Al-Zaatari said they would welcome a Democrat club.

“It’s nice at a university to not feel like your opinion is being left out, regardless of what it is. We would never want that,” Al-Zaatari said.

Ethan Wade, a former Student Government Association member, said he would like to reform the group once election season has passed. He indicated he is currently working for Colorado Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper’s reelection campaign.

Regardless of students’ party affiliation, becoming more politically aware seems to be a message shared by the campus political clubs.

“I urge all of my friends, family, and fellow students to become more politically active,” Kasperski said. “I believe that we need to be educating more about the real issues beyond what people are getting in campaign attack ads and Facebook posts.”