North Texas Daily

Political parties fully represented at UNT

Political parties fully represented at UNT

Political parties fully represented at UNT
March 27
01:10 2014

Nicholas Friedman // Staff Writer

Political affiliation has long been the cause of debate in countries where multi-party systems have differing views on cultural issues.

With the political season beginning to heat up on multiple levels, politically affiliated groups on the UNT campus offer an outlet for students to voice their opinions while discussing concepts and current events relative to their own beliefs.

The North Texas College Republicans, College Democrats of North Texas, Young Americans for Liberty and the International Socialist Organization all provide a safe place for open discussion and aim to relay their political party’s ideas in hopes of enlightening fellow students.

Assistant professor of political science Jacqueline Demeritt said that she believes that student-run political groups are an integral part of student life.

“An important part of the undergraduate experience is learning about the world and one’s place in it,” Demeritt said. “That requires exposure to politics, the opportunity to develop beliefs and preferences and the opportunity to find and use one’s political voice.”

Detailing democracy

The College Democrats of North Texas aims to get young Progressives engaged in politics by showcasing political topics as a pressing matter in society, interdisciplinary studies senior and group president Mia Witt said.

The group, which meets Thursdays in Terrill Hall at 7 p.m., has about 20 to 25 active members. Witt said group meetings cover topics ranging from women’s rights to racial politics and the economy along with immigration and healthcare reform.

Witt said the College Democrats also volunteer with various organizations in addition to promoting candidates in state and national elections.

“We participated in phone banking for Wendy Davis, gubernatorial candidate, as well as voter registration drives on campus leading up to the 2012 Presidential election,” Witt said.

Witt said that in regards to other political groups on campus, the College Democrats aim to help students understand the actions taken now will affect the future of society. Witt added that conservatives are not the biggest obstacle. She instead focused on the ideal of people not voting as the largest hurdle.

“We cannot underestimate the impact of all of us,” Witt said. “Teachers, students, social workers, businesswomen, businessmen and everyone in between – united for change.”

A republic of ideas

The North Texas College Republicans, started at UNT in the early 1990s, aims to inform students of the Republican agenda both economically and constitutionally, and provide ways for those interested to get involved with the party.

With 15 active members, the group meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m. in room 75 of the Business Leadership Building, group chairman and education senior Kari Lane said.

Lane said meetings will often have a speaker or a topic of discussion brought about by asking members what they are thinking about in regards to national, local and state current events.

“We promote debates at meetings because they help with getting your ideas out there,” Lane said. “Most of our in-goals are the same but we have to think about a way to all get there.”

Lane said the group has recently assisted with Greg Abbott’s campaign for governor, handing out push cards and volunteering at events at Texas Motor Speedway in support of Abbott.

“We’re 100 percent for Greg Abbott on the state level,” Lane said. “We believe Abbott has a plan and it lines up with what we want as Texans and he has proven to be a strong leader and he is somebody that the Republican Party has gathered behind as a whole.”

Liberty and justice

The Young Americans for Liberty are a national, chapter-based organization  that supports the idea of free markets and social tolerance, discussing these concepts at its meetings every Thursday at 5 p.m. in Wooten Hall 310.

Chapter president and economics sophomore Dustin Lane said the group supports a huge umbrella of members including libertarians, classical liberals and constitutional conservatives.

“At meetings we’ll try and brainstorm activism activities like a school-choice voucher program that allows parents to choose where they want their children to go to school,” Lane said. “We also try to have a speaker every week and open discussion on academics or politics. We keep it open to have all ideas flowing.”

Young Americans for Liberty work with a network called Students for Liberty (SFL), an international organization with similar ideals, which allows them to reach out to a wider audience.

“Some of us were able to attend the SFL conference in Washington D.C. this past February,” Lane said. “There were political panels and speakers like the CEO of Whole Foods who spoke on ideas that could benefit society.”

Lane said controversial topics at meetings would often spark debate.

“One time there was debate about foreign policy,” Lane said. “There are some areas where people disagree, but that will happen with any issue.”

Philosophy of equality

The Denton Internationalist Socialist Organization (ISO) branch meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Language Building room 316 organizer and anthropology-history senior Mario Ovalle said. There are currently 14 active members but meetings and forums will often draw 20 to 30 people.

“Our meetings are a place where we discuss history, socialist theory and current events,” Ovalle said. “We’re active socialists, meaning that we’re activists in various areas of work.”

Many see the word ‘socialism’ and immediately resort to a negative connotation, Ovalle said.

Ovalle said this is because many do not understand what socialism actually is: international solidarity with workers and oppressed people around the world.

“We mostly concern ourselves with the work that we do and we pay attention to mainstream politics,” Ovalle said. “We want people on campus to know more about what socialism is and the kind of work we do, hopefully getting interested people involved with socialist capitalism.

Ovalle said this work has ranged anywhere from organizations involving anti-war policies, women and gender rights, environmental issues, immigration and some anti-death penalty work in Denton.

Feature photo: Members of the UNT Republican Party political group. (Left to right) Political science sophomore Connor Barkley, risk management junior Matthew Sayegah, education senior Kari Lane and international studies sophomore Petri Hyde. The group meets every Wednesday night in the Business Leadership Building. Photo by Kelsey Littlefield / Staff Photographer

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he's had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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