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The Harvard College Democrats formed a coalition with more than 40 other college Democrats chapters across the nation Wednesday to boycott donations to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in response to a recent policy change that the college groups argue favors incumbents.
The DCCC announced in March that it will no longer hire any vendor who “works with an opponent of a sitting Member of the House Democratic Caucus.”
A press release issued by the college Democrats coalition argues the policy change will prevent new candidates from entering politics.
“Primary challengers are essential to ensure that the Democratic Party is continually held accountable to the needs of our constituents,” the press release reads. “The rule would financially deter and greatly disadvantage vital new voices in our party, who are often younger and come from underrepresented and historically marginalized communities and identities.”
The statement calls the DCCC’s new policy “undemocratic and antithetical to our values of inclusion and diversity.” The coalition additionally advocates for “a national boycott of donations to the DCCC until it reverses this blacklist rule and institutes policies that support, not punish, new voices in the Democratic Party.”
The coalition comprises many types of schools from across the country, including historically black colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges, and state universities. Only one other Ivy League chapter — Dartmouth College Democrats — joined the coalition.
Jeremy A. Stepansky ’21, legislative director of the Harvard College Democrats, said he proposed creating the coalition because he opposes the DCCC’s new policy. He noted that several Democrats, including Representatives Ayanna S. Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have also spoken out against the rule.
“We can’t only be concerned with holding onto a Democratic majority — we have to push to change what a Democratic majority means: does it uphold the status quo? Or does it fight for economic, social, racial, and environmental justice for all, inside and outside the US?” Stepansky said.
DCCC officials, in contrast, have argued that the policy change protects incumbents and will help facilitate efforts to maintain the party’s majority in the House of Representatives.
Harvard College Democrats President Hank R. Sparks ’21 said he thinks the coalition of multiple college Democrats chapters will give their demands more weight.
“The power of a coalition is to say it’s not just us from our so-called ivory tower at Harvard saying, ‘You should change this,’” he said. “It's college Democrats from every background, from every state across the nation speaking out against this policy.”
The Harvard College Democrats called for a boycott of the DCCC because the new policy makes group members uncomfortable donating to the Democratic committee, according to Sparks. He said he thinks instituting a boycott will draw more attention to the issue than just issuing a statement condemning the policy change.
“If we just released a statement saying we disagree with this, to be honest, it wouldn’t get much attention, and we feel like we had an obligation to bring attention to this issue,” he said. “And so we might not have a big financial impact on the DCCC through this coalition, but I’m hoping that they’ll hear us.”
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