Originally Published September 28, 2006
CSUN students are not known for their involvement in politically motivated clubs and organizations.
And with more than 250 on-campus clubs and organizations to choose from, only two – Republicans and Greens – are beginning to actively promote political party involvement, according to the Matador Involvement Center.
Absent this fall are the CSUN Democrats.
“I couldn’t find anyone to take over,” said CSUN senior Michael Colorge, the former Democratic Club president from 2002 to 2005. After the bulk of the Democrats’ already fragile membership (less than a dozen) graduated last year, Colorge had to make a choice between reviving the club or abandoning the operation altogether. He chose the latter.
“The CSUN Democratic Club may be nonexistent at the moment, but I’m more involved with regional politics,” he said. Along with his San Fernando Valley Democratic Party executive board membership, Colorge also said he acts as controller for Stonewall Young Democrats.
Colorge added that while CSUN gives institutional support, student support is “a whole other issue.”
“Freshmen are more interested in things like parties, fraternities and sororities,” he said. “They have a weird aversion to politics. Maybe it’s because they’re not brought up in very political households.”
In fact, a quick count of registered CSUN social sorority and fraternity clubs confirms at least part of Colorge’s theory. Nearly 50 such clubs – all allotted an allowance by the Associated Students – are currently in existence. They range alphabetically from the Armenian Fraternity and Sorority Council to Pi Theta Kappa Sorority.
Ian Cowan, a recent transfer student, chimed in on what he sees as “a disconnect” between CSUN students and partisan politics.
“I think the lack (of interest) is because of the disapproval of Bush’s policies,” he said. “People would rather not be involved than have anything to do with what’s going on.”
Referring to the “tightly contested” 2000 presidential election, Cowan speculated that Bush’s re-election may have “discouraged young people from future political participation.”
Former CSU undergraduate and current University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate student Sarah Wilkins offered her observation.
“College should be the pinnacle of academic thought,” she said. “If we’re the thinkers of our generation, why is it that the interest on campus and political group membership is so low?
“I’d speculate that people feel removed from politics in general. They’re more concerned about their daily lives, their next exam. They’re not concerned with civic activism,” she said.
Nevertheless, a minimal amount of political party interest can still be found at Northridge.
While the CSUN Democrats are extinct, their Republican counterparts are still afloat. Currently, their membership is five students, according to their president, sophomore Amanda Perry.
“It’s hard to not only find conservative people, but to get them to make a commitment,” she said, referring to CSUN as predominately liberal in nature.
Perry, a political science major, said the Republican Club is in a state of “rebuilding” and that she basically inherited the presidency when the bulk of the members – including two of her older cousins – graduated.
And while she said it is not in her club’s conservative nature to protest, she did stress the importance of students being active.
“We want to be known as the main activist group on campus, and to focus on the elections. We want people to get involved,” she said. “The Republicans have the advantage in all three branches of the government, and we want to keep it that way.”
The other politically affiliated club on campus is the CSUN Greens. And while they too are in the process of re-building, (their membership base is hovering right around five to seven members) some definite events are planned for the near future.
“We’re a party for social and environmental justice,” said their president, John Paul Vera. “This country is too big of a nation just to have two parties representing itself ? we’re not a party of corporate sponsorship,” he said.