The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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SJU’s political groups discuss their positions

yafYoung Americans for Freedom

Although the Young Americans for Freedom at St. John’s University are not yet a recognized organization by SGI, their conservative beliefs drive the group’s role at the University.

President Brian Dugan, senior and Government and Politics MAJOR, tells how the group has not exactly encouraged students to get out and vote, but has been active in recruiting members at the debate watch parties they hosted with SJU Participate and Brian Browne.

What are the group’s feelings on the current election?

On campus, essentially we have a lot of Trump supporters. Nationally, this is the difference and I think it’s a good distinction — on campus you have people that are Trump supporters through and through. Nationally, YAF, you have Trump supporters who are voting for him basically because of the Supreme Court, but they don’t like the guy at all.

Q: What are your plans for after the election?

The biggest thing that I want to do with YAF before I graduate is bring a speaker. They have a lot of speakers, I’ve got to raise money for that, but that’s probably one of the biggest pros of YAF as opposed to College Republicans or other groups, is their roster of speakers is bar none. And they’re really supportive with getting them and setting everything up.

Q: Is there anybody in particular you have in mind?

There is someone in particular, but we can’t really afford him…Ben Shapiro…that’s…literally every YAF chapter wants Ben Shapiro.

Q: Is there anything else that you think students should know about your organization?

I think the biggest thing is…[a student] came up to us when we were doing the tabling initially, and he was like, ‘I’m liberal, but the left has gone insane,’ and all over the country, people are hearing the same thing — like with freedom of speech. YAF, is conservative, but it’s one of the only groups that are fighting for freedom of speech on campus, which is really, essential in this environment where you’re supposed to be exposed to new ideas.


College Democrats

Like most of the other political groups on campus, the College Democrats are still waiting on approval from SGI.

The group is part of the college arm of the Democratic Party. President Taylor Tate, senior Government and Politics major, stresses the importance of voting and making sure students’ voices are heard.

The College Democrats hope students stay politically active even once the election is over. Tate wants a structure in place to help students become more politically active and that there is a place on campus to promote democratic ideals. She sees the College Democrats as fulfilling this goal.

Can you explain who the College Democrats are and what they do?

We strive to educate the student body and people in the NYC area to use their political capital to ensure that their government officials are accountable to their interests. We believe people can hold their government officials accountable through voting, petitioning and participating in marches. We want people in our community to be able to make their views known. We want their interests in the legislative agenda. We want their politicians to pass policies that will enable them to socially and economically mobilize. We plan to help make that happen by doing debates, roundtables, GOTV events and organizing marches.

What are some events or events you have hosted for this election?

We have helped with the debate watch parties. We also got people to sign petitions so that Democrat and Progressive candidates can be on the ballot. We also put on a “How can we be more bipartisan?” event and a “Disillusionment of Democracy” event.

How did you encourage students to register to vote?

We have got many people on campus registered to vote. We also have gone to local subway stations to get people registered. They want change and they see that happening through voting.

What do you see moving forward after the election?

We want to focus more on collaborating with other schools and organizations (off-campus and on) to further the democratic platform. We specifically want to focus on influencing America’s international agenda but most importantly, we hope to help create and implement domestic policies that will allow the most vulnerable in our society to be socially and economically viable. We plan on helping immigrants get their citizenship, participate in anti-war protests, and furthering democratic ideals. There’s a lot we can do.




College Republicans

Still in the process of becoming an official organization, the College Republicans were excited to see the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, while not endorsing the Republican candidate Donald J. Trump, or any candidate for that matter.

President Patrick Romain, a junior Government & Politics major and Economics minor, hopes that, through the group, people “start thinking about political philosophies and love and defend the country.” Understanding what right-winged values actually are and getting people to join the group are the main goals of the College Republicans.

Can you explain who the College Republicans are and what they do?

So we’re an organization on campus to promote the interest of the Republican party. Our students work for candidates, educate people on what conservatism, libertarianism are and what right winged values actually are. That includes forums, panels, small groups led by students, getting speakers. We hope people can fashion their skills as well, right, on public service, people working for a think tank, the National Review and I guess that last part intellectually helps in pushing the party in any way.

What are some events or events you are going to host for this election?

Well this year we already had a joint event with the College Democrats I don’t remember, I forgot what it was, it was on a topic of immigration where people could talk about it. Nov. 8 we hope to have an event I guess basically on Trump and Hillary and contrasting the future of the Republican party. What is it now.

How have you encouraged students to register to vote, get out and vote and get involved with the group?

We’ve been actively recruiting during debate watching sessions. We got 12 names once from one session. I asked my friends if they wanted to join, they asked their friends so it’s a growing thing. We had 40+ names at one point. More than the requirements.

What do you have planned for after the election?

Damage control. No I’m just kidding. If we’re all around after the election, just talk about how to all went and what track America is on now. Look at the map and see how people voted and policies we want enacted and see what goes on from there. Again the activism, working for people in Congress, the education will continue.



Young Americans for Liberty

One of the newest political groups at St. John’s University is Young Americans for Liberty (YAL).

President Vincent Manta, a sophomore and English major, and Vice President Rumman Rafsan, a junior and Government and Politics major, said that their main goal is to encourage open dialogue among Johnnies about important topics and promote free speech and individual rights through activism.

The organization is on its way to becoming recognized by Student Government Inc. (SGI), which will help them organize events and become more active on campus.

What candidate is YAL supporting in this election and why?

Manta: The group doesn’t officially endorse anybody. But individually we’re allowed to have our own leanings and who we support. But as a chapter we’re not going to come out and endorse anybody because we’re a non-profit. We’re closely tied with Ron Paul though…But never any endorsements.

Do you think there will be more third party votes in this election?

Manta: I can see it more but you don’t know until election day because some polls have Gary at five percent, some have them at two percent, you’re not going to know until then.

Rafsan: The biggest part of the Libertarian Party right now is to get five percent of the vote so that they could be recognized as a minor party for the future. So maybe later on in future presidential elections, the Libertarian Party could have a bigger voice. And it also goes down to Senate races, Congress races to get the Libertarian Party in all of those.

How did you encourage students to register, vote and stay involved in politics after the elections?

Manta: [Earlier in the elections] one of our friends worked for Students for Bernie, and we spread for them that they were having like a voting drive – so we’re willing to work with anybody who wants to be politically active.

Rafsan: We also have a lot of diverse opinions in our group – we have a lot of Bernie supporters, we have a few Trump supporters, a lot of Gary Johnson supporters – so basically since we’re inclusive of all political ideologies, more people are welcome to come and discuss their ideas compared to other political groups who are more exclusive.

What are your plans after the presidential elections?

Manta: We’re hoping that more people have become more politically engaged because of this election, and we’re mainly hoping to just grow the group … So after the elections, when we’re finally recognized, we’re probably going to do some activism events, hold more meetings, there’s some things on the website like a ‘free speech ball’ where you blow a giant beach ball up on campus and talk about free speech.

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