Campus / News / February 23, 2011

Bringing back the Knox Democrats

On a largely liberal campus, it seems surprising that there has not been an active Democratic club on campus. Senior Jim Hanson and sophomore Anna Novikova are changing this.

Knox Democrats “existed for a number of years and had gone quiet,” Hanson said.

Knox students were very active in the 2008 presidential election, but people “tuned out” after Barack Obama was elected; Hanson continued, “We can’t tune out, ever.”

He said that keeping a Democratic club running in exciting times, such as the 2008 presidential election, is easy.

“It’s much more difficult to keep it going through the hard times,” he said.

Hanson and Novikova have made the club active again, hoping to “engage students in activism on bread and butter issues,” Novikova said.

The group will do this by training students in political organizing, campaigning and involving them with issues on a local level.

“There’s a lot of passion [at Knox] but as Knox Democrats we bring the skills organizing and experience,” she said.

“We can’t just be focused far away,” Hanson said, stressing the importance of working on a local level in addition to national and state levels. They want to “work in the city to make concrete changes here in Galesburg because we live here too.”

Novikova added that the club is trying to focus on “real measures to improve people’s lives.”

The group also plans to bring speakers to campus and is hoping to bring Campus Camp Wellstone, a one-and-a-half day program that trains students in activism, according to Hanson.

Campus Camp Wellstone is a program of Wellstone Action, “a national center for training and leadership development in the progressive movement,” started in honor of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife Shelia Wellstone, according to the Wellstone Action website.

The group has already begun to reach out to the student body and involve more Knox students in the political process by tabling on Wednesday and Thursday of last week to register students to vote.

Hanson explained the importance of voting and being involved in campaigns: “If you don’t choose, someone’s going to choose for you.”

Although the Knox Democrats are different from many other clubs on campus, in that they are mainly focused on elections, they hope to reach out to other organizations on campus with similar purposes and to the Galesburg community as well, according to Novikova.

There are currently approximately 10 consistent members of the Knox Democrats, but Hanson said, “We’d like to grow that. We think we can have a lot more people participating.”

They are looking for students who have ideas about speakers, events or projects that support Democratic values. Although the club is small, its members are very enthusiastic.

“We’ll give them all the support they need to get it done,” Hanson said.

Hanson and Novikova encourage all students who would like to get involved to come to their meetings at 8 p.m. on Thursdays in the Gizmo.

“We have a good time,” said one member, sophomore Amanda Lee.

Gretchen Walljasper

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