Conn College: Left – But How Far?


By John Sherman Unigo Campus Rep at Connecticut College Oct. 2008 The past few weeks at Conn College have been politics, politics, politics – and it’s not even October. From newspaper editorials to campaign bumper stickers, the election is on everyone’s mind. The college has facilitated the students’ interest in politics, most recently by inviting NPR political analyst Cokie Roberts to come and speak. Conn has a vocally liberal student body, and if I had a dollar for every “Barack the Vote!” shirt I’ve seen this semester, I’d have enough for a seat at one of his fund-raisers. There are conservatives here, too; many of them are moderates or libertarians. The far-right conservatives usually stay quiet and try not to let on. Conn’s newspaper, The College Voice, ran an article this week called “Breaking News: Connecticut College Is Liberal.” Contributing writer Keith Farrell ’09 polled a sample of students and found that 89 percent favored Obama, 8.6 percent favored McCain, and the rest were undecided or voting for a third-party candidate. Another statistic cited in The Voice came from a Student Government Association poll, which reported that Obama has a 94 percent approval rating among Conn students. In the coming weeks, the newspaper will continue its coverage of the election through Op-Ed pieces on both sides of the issues, as well as coverage of political events on campus. The two most visible political interest groups on campus are the Conn College Democrats (CC Dems) and CC Left. In previous years there has been a CC Republicans group, but it seems to have dissipated. I spoke with Will Ball ’09, a philosophy major and president of the CC Dems, and Randy Fixman ’09, party chair of the group. Will says that while Conn’s campus is “overwhelmingly ‘Liberal,’” the CC Dems are interested in “turning passive Liberals into active Liberals.” He suspects that though the student body is undeniably left leaning, many students may only be “Liberal by default.” That is, they may never have explored their political beliefs with any scrutiny. Default or not, Will’s group works hard to make every voice heard. With initiatives like “Storm the Dorms,” in which members of the group knock on every door on campus and hand out voter registration forms, they will stop at nothing to get students to the voting booths. So far this year, 170 new voters have registered to vote in New London as a result of this initiative. Though Randy concedes that Conn’s hometown is “not the bluest area,” the most recent congressional election put a Democrat in office by 83 votes. In a district of almost 700,000 voters, the Dems will gladly take credit for the victory. According to Will and Randy, the most important issues for the group in this year’s national election will be universal healthcare, women’s reproductive rights, and the economy. I also met with the leader of CC Left, Tristan Husby, a senior Classics major. The group is smaller than CC Dems, due in large part to the scope of Tristan’s group – CC Left’s grassroots ideology advocates “voting by our actions, rather than only in the voting booth.” Without a hint of hostility, Tristan explains, “The CC Dems are interested in getting Democrats elected; CC Left is interested in creating a more just and peaceful world.” This semester, the group has been working in support of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), organizing a used book drive to raise money for the organization. Both groups are very involved in local New London politics; CC Left works with the New London Green Party and the CC Dems are active in the Democratic Town Council.

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