The Overwhelmingly Liberal Political Climate at UCSC
By Alexandra Leong
Unigo Campus Rep at UCSC
It’s difficult for me to say what the real political climate is like at UCSC, because unfortunately I am one of many students that falls into the “apathetic” category. Without campus groups such as the UCSC College Democrats, College Republicans, the newspaper “City on a Hill Press” and others, I would probably not even know that the deadline to register to vote is coming up in mid-October. Luckily for me, campus organizations are out at tabling and getting the word out at the Quarry Plaza (outside the campus bookstore) for one of the most historically important elections we’ve ever seen.
Naveed Mansoori, acting president and vice-president of the UCSC College Democrats said, “The College Democrats at UCSC are going to great lengths to make sure Barack Obama wins the upcoming election. Through Get Out The Vote (GOTV) the College Democrats are attempting to register 1,000 new Democrats, and in cooperation with the Student Union on campus, we are attempting to register 4,000 voters prior to October 20th.”
Mansoori is employing numerous tactics to meet this ambition goal, even going as far as registering commuters on busses. “The College Democrats have also teamed up with Students for Barack Obama travelling to swing states, such as Nevada, to educate the undecided into making the right decision for this country's future. We can only hope that with a grassroots movement this expansive, that our efforts are answered with success,” he said.
As far as the political climate on campus, Mansoori acknowledges that the majority of UCSC undergrads are liberal-minded. “The UCSC student body is extremely politically active, and also, incredibly liberal. But, it is important to keep in mind that local politics- and more specifically, campus politics - predominate the passions of those who act. For example, the hearts and minds of students are piqued by the actions of the UC Regents, and, consequently, the future plans the UC system has that conflict with the idyllic perceptions students have of UCSC,” said Mansoori, who acknowledges that Obama played a major part in getting the interest of apathetic students.
“Barack Obama, though, has turned heads. He will undoubtedly win with a landslide in Santa Cruz, and he will win a great majority of the votes cast by students. But, I would also assert that the votes are not being cast by a majority of Democrats. Rather, a new wave of "Obamacrats" has risen embodying the conglomeration of those lying to the left of the political spectrum. The silent murmur of students disgruntled with Obama's politics can be heard; although, this skepticism of politicians is not something unique to even the most liberal of campuses.”
Mansoori is right in the sense that local news will never be overshadowed by what is going on in global politics. Even in the thick of all the election talk on and off campus, last week AFSCME, a group fighting for UC workers’ rights, protested outside the Bay Tree Bookstore. Their last strike occurred in July of this year which was actually a postponement from what was supposed to occur in June 2008.
While UCSC students are constantly exposed to activism from campus groups, it’s hard to measure the individual interest of those who are not involved with any of these organizations.
Would there by activism without these groups? While they tend to be an excellent resource for public knowledge, some of them can also be quite intimidating. Because the majority of UCSC is extremely liberal, it could unknowingly single out the minority of non-liberals and non-Democrats at UCSC.
The president of College Republicans, Angi Deng, declined to be interviewed about the College Republicans role in campus activism and their efforts in the McCain campaign.