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The Quinnipiac Democrats make a comeback as the 2020 Democratic primary enters a critical stage

William Gavin, Contributing Writer

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Democrats showed up in droves to attend the debate watch party co-hosted by the Quinnipiac Democrats and the Quinnipiac Political Science Association Tuesday, Oct. 15, eager to watch a record-breaking 12 candidates make the case for their presidencies.

William Gavin

Members of both associations came out to learn about the presidential candidates and current issues. Students said not only how they came to the party in order to meet new people and discuss the candidates, but also because they understood the importance of political involvement.

“Politics affects everyone, including college students and as long as college students don’t pay attention to politics, politicians won’t pay attention to them,” Ryan Kelly, a freshman accounting major, said.

This is a shift for a campus in which a Quinnipiac Democrats organization has been inactive for the last few years.

Vice President of the Quinnipiac Democrats Hugo Sokolski credits the 2016 election for this enormous wave of political interest.

“Following the unprecedented 2016 election, political climate, I personally believe, has forever been changed,” Sokolski said. “People across the nation, especially students, are becoming polarized and ever more partisan.”

This benefits the Quinnipiac Democrats, an organization that had a fickle presence throughout the last few decades, often only gaining in prominence during periods of political intensity. The organization came to an abrupt end in 1996 following a lack of support and membership for the club, only resurfacing in 2003 when re-founder Brian Salerno noticed the lack of Democratic presence on campus. According to an article from The Chronicle at the time, Salerno had noticed that there was no Democratic club, while there was a long-running Republican group.

Salerno’s iteration reached moderate success, bringing attention to more Democratic ideals in the University, even managing to coordinate debates with their cousin-club, the Quinnipiac University Republicans. 

Unfortunately for the Quinnipiac Democrats, their momentary success died down. This can be attributed to the general “political apathy” that baffled students and professors alike in 2006. The Chronicle reported in 2006 that the leadership of both the Quinnipiac Democrats and Republicans were astonished by how apathetic the students of Quinnipiac were.

According to current president, Gina DiVito, the previous version of the club, when she joined in 2016, was, “technically an organization on campus.” She said that the club was lacking in communication, as well as that the club was unable to effectively determine the times of meetings and even whether or not the organization was actually running that year.

Yet DiVito expressed pride in the organization in spite of, or perhaps because of, the obstacles in their way — namely lacking name recognition and proper management.

The goals of the Quinnipiac Democrats remain unchanged. The group is sticking with their old goals and continuing them into a new era: one filled with discourse and heavy partisanship. The organization focuses on a two-tiered platform of education and activism, and primarily on informing students, then having them take their knowledge into the real world — whether it be working on political campaigns, internships or voting in elections.

“My hope for the organization is that we can be a facilitator of educating about the political process along with hot button issues … within the ideology itself,” DiVito said

While there are no planned events yet, DiVito expressed her desire to take students off campus and get them involved in the political process, perhaps through volunteering for local campaigns or attending rallies for candidates.

DiVito also expressed her support for future debates with the QU Republicans during the 2020 Presidential election season, likely in a similar vein to those held in prior years, and in conjunction with the QU Political Science Association. The president was also open to inviting the Young Americans for Liberty to join the debates. Following this statement, DiVito denounced the idea of a political echo chamber and proclaimed the importance of political diversity and remaining open to all ideas.

“Students should want to be politically active, especially on college campuses because politics affects literally everything,” DiVito said. “We are all the future of this nation.”