Are student-run political clubs a bad idea?

The Young Democrats organized a viewing party in the UC multipurpose room. Photo by Ben Haines.

In theory, clubs that allow students to express their personal political views can be a good way to encourage young adults to become interested in the issues, but are such clubs inspiring rivalry rather than the desire to be involved in politics?

This question was raised when controversy sparked between the Students for Romney club and the Young Democrats this week. The Young Democrats planned a party to watch President Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech and the Students for Romney club planned to “crash” the party wearing Romney t-shirts.

Although anyone was welcome to attend the viewing party, Young Democrats club officials were concerned that the Romney club would become disruptive and conflict would arise. “The Democrats would just like the respect of being able to celebrate our views with the watch party. We did not protest them (Students for Romney). They can be gracious and let us have our party,” a member of the Young Democrats said.

That same club member also stated that she was worried about the Students for Romney being excessively disruptive, and “While some of the Romney students can respect personal beliefs that differ from their own, there are a fair number that verbally attack you for those beliefs.”

When asked about the Students for Romney club’s intentions to disruptively crash the speech viewing, club president Aaron Littlefield said that “it was just talk of an idea that escalated,” and the club did not have malicious intentions, although they did intend to go to the watch party wearing Romney t-shirts.

Such controversy parallels the rivalry between opposing teams at college football games. When asked if the political clubs were doing more harm than good, Students for Romney club member Ricky Moxley answered, “It shouldn’t, but the immaturity of the people in these clubs shows, and it becomes ‘us’ vs. ‘them.’ I am perfectly fine with letting them (the Young Democrats) do their thing. I’m not going to persuade them to my side, so why even try? The people that we need to be talking to are the independents.”

In response to this same question, a member of the Young Democrats stated, “On-campus political clubs are good for the students and faculty. Better for them (the clubs) to be slightly over-excited rather than apathetic.”

Editor’s note: Becca Ziglar is a member of both the Students for Romney Club and the Young Democrats. All quotations were used with knowledge and permission from the quoted party. The Students for Romney ended up not attending the Obama watch party, and it commenced peacefully.