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Democrats contest political apathy

Wednesday, October 24, 2007  
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By Carly Darrow

Democracy may be for all, but it seems that many on campus don’t want a part of it. Senior Jonathan Carroll, president, and Joseph Karch, webmaster, leaders of the newly re-established College Democrats hope to remedy this problem.

The College Democrats has been an active student group at various points in Oklahoma Christian’s history, but after the 2004 election, the group took a three-and-a-half year break. Currently, the College Democrats are the only political group on campus.

“The main goals for the club are to promote political discussion, education and awareness on campus,” Carroll said. “We want to promote political awareness and fight political apathy.”

Both Carroll and Karch believe political apathy exists on the Oklahoma Christian campus. Recently, SGA set up a booth outside the campus cafeteria, and Carroll, along with others, asked students to register to vote. Carroll said a large number declined.

“Many students said they felt that the government was messed up, and they didn’t want any part of it,” Carroll said. “People just don’t care enough, and they really should because they can make a difference. Most just don’t realize it.  However, the only way to begin to fix the government is to vote.”

The organization’s officers plan to have monthly screenings of documentaries on important political issues and then discuss what they have watched. They also would like to bring in experts and get their opinions on the documentaries.

“If the average person paid attention, they would probably be upset about a lot of things that go on in the world and at home,” Karch said.

Michael O’Keefe, the sponsor for the College Democrats, feels there is a need for this organization to be active and provide another view point on campus.

“I’d like to see them bring speakers on campus who give a balance to certain speakers such as Jim Inhaofe, Kenneth Star and Michael Midved,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe also anticipates arranging a display and activity next fall before the election.

“I would like to separate the gallery into two sides and have a display opened before the 2008 election. The right side would have cartoonists whose work reflects a republican position and the left would contain cartoonists whose work reflects a democratic position,” O’Keefe said. “The reception to this display would be in Judd Theatre. Here we would have somebody well-known to represent the Republican Party and somebody well-known to represent the Democratic Party. Questions would be solicited from the Oklahoma Christian students a week in advance and the moderators of the debate would be students from the history and social science departments.”

Carroll and Karch said they hope the opportunity to become educated about world issues would help drive people to get involved.

“Being informed allows people to take action,” Carroll said.

Participation in the group entails helping organize events and getting a say in the kinds of activities organized.

Keeping the old College Democrats’ constitution makes it possible for anyone on campus to participate in the assembly, the organizers said. O’Keefe said he would encourage students of any party to participate in order to create dialogue among those with different ideas.

Newly elected Vice President Daniel McCormack expressed his hopes for the organization and the importance of getting active members. He wants to spark discussion to help students become more informed about what they believe.

“I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who spends much time on campus that OC is a fairly to very conservative school, politically speaking,” McCormack said. “I think it’s important for everyone to be able to hear opposing viewpoints on issues—as such, we welcome anyone, even and especially non-members, to come to our events and talk things over with us.”

The group hopes to accomplish this goal in many ways.

“I believe one of the most important functions we can serve is to facilitate dialogue on campus regarding important issues,” McCormack said.

The organizers hope more students choose to participate in the College Democrats.

“There is absolutely no good reason to continue in ignorance when opportunities to educate oneself and/or discuss opinions with others present themselves,” Katherine Nash, chaplain for the College Democrats said.

With the nation heading into a presidential election year, the group feels there would certainly be plenty to keep them interested and busy.

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