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November 16, 2017

UMass Democrats hold their first meeting of the year

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

The University of Massachusetts Democrats kicked off their first meeting of the school year last night in room 163 of the Campus Center. Members of the board went over their respective objectives and the goals they hope to accomplish within the next year, one being to create a website compiled of stories from DACA students.

“A lot of what we do in this organization throughout the year is aimed at connecting us to the broader outside world. We want to be able to relate on-campus situations to politics going on nationally. The subject of DACA [is] being hotly contested right now,” said adviser Reily Connaughton, who is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy.

Jonah Carlson, the College Democrats of Massachusetts chair of the disability and health caucus and political science major, spoke of his excitement for the upcoming year.

“This is the first year where we have had this caucus, giving me the opportunity to build this from the ground up. I will work on hosting events and advocating for important legislation for health justice,” Carlson said.

President Sonia Guglani, a junior finance and economics major, shared the upcoming event list for the months of September and October, which included dinners, meetings with members of Congress and a scheduled event with the College Republicans group. Afterwards, the floor was opened to questions.

“This is my first ever meeting for this club…However, I’ve been affiliated with Democratic party organizations and clubs since high school,” said freshman economics major Jon Blum. “I am excited for all the upcoming events, but am most excited for the upcoming event where we will have an open floor to debate with College Republicans.”

Sonia Guglani said it was a good introductory meeting with turnout being relatively the same as past years.

“My biggest hope for this year is to make this a safe space where people feel they can freely express their opinions with no judgement,” said Guglani.

Vice President Manuel Bonder, a political science major, shared a similar hopeful sentiment.

“We had a lot of people sign up at the activities fair expo, so to then see them here tonight was great. We really want to keep people engaged and coming back each week,” said Bonder.

Communications Director Lucas Harrington, who is majoring in political science, talked about why he believes in the group’s future and lasting power.

“UMass Democrats is a great structural system for activism. It’s a great way for different groups to come together and discuss many subtopics under the broad umbrella of politics,” Harrington said. “I find many people here will have a particular issue and are able to focus on it more effectively within this one club.”

Jackie Hayes can be reached at jacquelineha@umass.edu.

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