Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

College Democrats of Massachusetts hosts convention

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The College Democrats of Massachusetts held their annual conference on Saturday and Sunday, which consisted of a gubernatorial candidate panel, a straw poll, speeches by officials, CDM constitutional amendments and officer elections.

Samuel Medeiros, the communications director for CDM, stated in an e-mail that the convention is a “weekend long event where college Democrats from across Massachusetts come together to engage with speakers and panels, to elect a new leadership, and to begin organizing for the upcoming elections.” The theme of this year’s conference was “What’s Next for Democrats?”

The speakers at the first part of the conference on Saturday were Alex Morse, mayor of Holyoke, Stan Rosenberg, Massachusetts Senate majority leader, Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator (via video),and Taylor Barnard, national president of CDM. A campaign internship and jobs fair followed, where each gubernatorial candidate had a member from the staff stationed for students that were interested in potentially working on a campaign, workshops on campaigning and women in politics, and the important gubernatorial candidates’ discussion and question and answer session, which would lead to the results of the straw poll.

There were five candidates present at the discussion on Saturday, and among them were Joe Avellone, vice president of PAREXEL International, Don Berwick, former administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Martha Coakley, attorney general of Massachusetts, Steve Grossman, treasurer of Massachusetts and Juliette Kayyem, former U.S. assistant secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

The discussion included topics on issues, particularly those relevant to college students. The CDM President Will Poff-Webster would present each of the candidates with a question, and each would respond accordingly. Among the topics were sexual assault on campus, bullying, student success and support, job growth, investments in transportation and infrastructure, the military and LGBT rights.

Each candidate had their own strong opinions on how each issue should be handled.

Juliette Kayyem believed in job growth. She said that people can cap tuition and fees for public institutions, but “private institutions are about transparency.” She said that as governor, in reference to the military, she will “be forgiving because I thank you for what you’re doing for this state.” She also believes that “we need to value LGBT as an asset to this state.”

Kayyem also has a plan for investments in transportation and infrastructure as well, stating that they will find additional revenue, have public and private partnerships, adding that this is the “only way to be competitive in the global economy.” She also believes that universal pre-K is a “no brainer for so many Democrats. We will pay for it through eating our state budget alive.”

“We are one state, many solutions,” she said, as her slogan.

Don Berwick said that “anyone who wants to go to college should get support,” and “student success is not based on zip code.” In reference to LGBT rights, he said “it is almost offensive that we have to have this conversation- it’s a birth right.” He also believed that in terms of teachers, Massachusetts is a little off track and needs to “Reinvest. Teachers are not the problem, they are the solution.” He added, “Running for governor is interesting; you all should try it sometime.”

Martha Coakley spoke about “smart growth.” She also believed that Massachusetts “can and will catch up in equality,” she said in comparison to other states. She also wants to “make it my mission to keep families,” when dealing with social workers, she said. She also noted that “every child gets the best education he or she can, being able to do well in school is the key to getting into college and doing well after that.”

Steve Grossman wants to “dedicate billions of dollars to transportation infrastructure,” he said, adding: “I believe I am the only one with a plan.” He also said there should be “equal justice under the law,” in reference to LGBT rights, stating that “Massachusetts has no public accommodations.” He then scolded Charlie Baker, stating: “Shame on you, Charlie Baker, for calling it a bathroom bill.” He also believes that students should receive paid summer internships. “Paid summer internships are the way to do it,” he said.

Joe Avellone said that Massachusetts needs to “close the achievement gap for poorer-performing schools,” he said, while adding that his plan for this is on his website. He also noted his support for the public accommodation bill and anti-bullying legislation, and stated that while he is governor, “every year I am going to have an LGBT summit.”

After the gubernatorial candidate discussion panel, the students that attended the conference all voted in a straw poll. The results indicated Juliette Kayyem in first place, winning with 39.5 percent of the votes, followed by Steve Grossman with 21.7 percent, Don Berwick with 20.9 percent, Martha Coakley with 14.7 percent, write in Dan Wolf with 2.3 percent, Others with 0.9 percent and Joe Avellone with 0 percent of the votes.

The second day of the convention featured speeches by Tom McGee, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and state senator, and Nicole LaChapelle, treasurer of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. Each speaker thanked the students generously for being so involved in the Democratic Party, and the students were told that they were the future of the Party. McGee said “It is important to be as engaged as possible in election years…bring the passion that you have to people that you know and talk about what’s important.”

LaChapelle used humor to engage the students. She stressed the importance of being able to explain political views in 30 seconds to convince someone to see your views and she said “Be involved, bring your values and connect them to your needs.”

The speeches were followed by a first annual awards ceremony, with three awards. One was the ‘Program of the Year’ award, given to campuses involved in the divest movement. The next was the award for ‘Rising Star in CDM’ given to freshman Alexandra Bankman of Boston University for her commitment to CDM at such a young age, and ‘Chapter of the Year’ award, given to Salem State University. The CDM members then went on to amend their constitution, which is required at least once a year, and they voted for the new officials in the organization.

The results of the officer elections were also revealed at the meeting. Marv McMoore from Northeastern University was elected as president while Chelsea Carrier of Mount Holyoke College was elected vice president. Taylor Anderson, also from Mount Holyoke College, was elected into the finance director position. Michelle Wozniak from Stonehill College was elected for the position of communications director and Tyler Carlton of Salem State University was elected as membership director.

The convention was held at Smith College in the Davis Ballroom.

Marleigh Felsenstein can be reached at [email protected].

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