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With President Donald Trump in the White House and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, undergraduates hoping to turn the political tide have flocked to introductory meetings of the Harvard College Democrats.
Last week, approximately 120 students interested in joining the Democrats—the largest liberal group on campus—attended the group’s introductory meeting, packing a room in Boylston Hall.
At the group’s second meeting on Tuesday, Democrats board members described the various committees new members could join and outlined the organization’s goals for the semester.
Sharon Yang ’18, president of Harvard Democrats, said Trump’s election in November is one likely reason for the surge in interest.
“Whether it’s pushing back against the Trump administration or continuing building on the progress that we’ve made for marginalized communities, I think there’s a strong sense of urgency that taking action now is incredibly important,” Yang said.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, members of the Democrats board detailed the group's decision to eliminate its "comp," a series of tasks and requirements that students previously had to complete to join the organization. Interested students no longer have to fulfill any requirements to join the Democrats.
“Calling it a comp is misleading, and it’s feeding into the culture of exclusivity at Harvard,” said Dominique J. Erney ’19, membership director of the Democrats. “We want you in this club if you want to be in this club.”
At Tuesday's meeting, several new members said they were motivated to join the Democrats to become more active participants in politics.
“I think it’s really important to be involved in politics, especially as a young person, because we really do have a say in what happens in our country,” Yilan Yang ’20 said. “I have a lot of issues I’m passionate about, and I think the Dems can make that happen.”
Other members said they were disheartened by the recent presidential election, and hoped to help elect more Democratic candidates in the next election.
“I hate Donald Trump, and I’m worried for the state of democracy in America,” Erica Newman-Corre ’19 said. “The Dems failed in November, and I think we need to do better.”.
Besides creating community within the organization, Yang said she also hopes to continue having an “open dialogue” with the Harvard Republican Club.
“Given the unique qualities of the Trump administration, I think there are actually a lot of things that the Harvard Democrats and the Harvard Republicans can agree on,” she said. “We’re always open to working with them.”
—Staff writer Amy Tan can be reached at email@example.com.
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