Monday, May 19, 2008

Drexel Dems

An annual feature on this blog over the past few years is a post highlighting one of the local college Democrats organizations. This year The Drexel Dems are stepping into the spotlight.

Drexel is viewed, with considerable reason, as a university more oriented toward pocket protectors than political activity. The programs are heavily slanted towards the technical; there isn’t even a separate political science department – it is combined with history.

And yet, the school is currently home to a feisty group of Democrats. Maintaining student organizations is tough when of the nearly 13,000 undergraduates and close to 7,000 graduate students, only 2,000 live on campus.

Reorganized in 2004, the Drexel Dems currently has 600 members and rumor has it they will be recognized this year as student organization of the year.

Students belonging to the organization campaigned in 2006 for Democratic congressional candidates including Joe Sestak, Lois Murphy, Patrick Murphy and Allyson Schwartz, and some state level candidates as well. In 2007, 250 Drexel Dems helped out with the presidential debate held on their campus.

One of their more notable projects this year has been voter registration and turnout. During this school year they have registered nearly 2,000 voters and turnout among dorm residents in the April primary was about 80%. Their registration efforts was noted in the university paper (“Drexel U organizations register 1,950 voters,” b Stephanie Takach) and then picked up by CBS. In March of this year they co-sponsored a one day workshop for Neighborhood Networks that brought in speakers such as Mayor Michael Nutter and once (and future?) DA candidate Seth Williams.

While not officially endorsing a presidential candidate in the primary election some Drexel Dems did put their design and technical skills to use for Sen. Obama, creating four original campaign buttons and distributing over 15,000 of them when Philly for Obama were running out of their own buttons.

They have also held townhall meetings, debates with college Republicans, and hosted movie nights and other social events.

In the past the activity of student Democrats has waxed and waned with presidential elections but has maintained a consistent level of activity since 2004, in large part thanks to the dedication of past and present officers like Brad Levinson, Sean Miller, and John Lloyd.

It is great to see college organizations taking an active role in not only presidential but local politics. I wonder if the dragon will breathe fire in their honor on election day?

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