Democracy Matters Attends Summit

Kate Stichnoth

This weekend members of the Colgate chapter of Democracy Matters headed to Albany to take part in Democracy Matters National Student Summit. The summit, held February ninth through the eleventh, brought together chapters of Democracy Matters from colleges and universities from across the country to participate in lectures, panel discussions and small group workshops to discuss aspects of campaign finance reform.

Democracy Matters, a prominent group on the Colgate campus, is a group that thrives on student activism in order to promotes the strengthening of democracy in the community and throughout the country, especially with respect to campaign finance reform and the promotion of publicly financed “Clean Elections.”

“Democracy Matters groups from different colleges were able to compare notes on the successes and challenges found in promoting clean elections and the restoration of democracy on our respective college campuses,” first-year Democracy Matters member Erin Hatch, who attended the summi, said.

The summit was jam-packed with activities.

“Winning Clean Elections,” the keynote panel, included Krysten Sinema, a “Clean Elections” Legislator and Arizona State Representative who, as a liberal bisexual woman, was able to win in a clean election in Arizona.

The panel discussed the benefits of “Clean Elections” and gave students insight into how they can affect politics. The panel also included Solange Bitol-Hansen, the National Programs Director of Public Campaign, Drew Warshaw, the Assistant Secretary to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and Joan Mandle, the Executive Director of Democracy Matters.

The other panel presented by the Democracy Matters coordinators to students was “Money and Politics: The Root of ALL Evil,” which discussed topics such as the environment and how student loans are affected by politics and our government.

Workshops focusing on specific topics included discussions of how Clean Elections work, how the bills are written, Democracy Matters and its relevance to the news, Democracy Matters speaker training, Clean Elections as a civil rights issue, how to lobby effectively for Clean Elections, how members of Democracy Matters can reach out to the broader community and Clean Elections in New York.

Colgate’s W. Bradford Wiley Professor of Economics Jay Mandle was on site to give his lecture, “Global Warming, Globalization, and the Need for Democracy,” in which he discussed the effects of globalization and global warming on the state of our world.

“It was more of a discussion than a lecture,” first-year Alex Snell said. “We were able to ask questions and agree or refute the points he was making.”

Students were given information on possible strategies used to continue the promotion of Clean Elections in the 2006 Elections in New York State, how to plan Democracy Matters events and meetings and internships and career possibilities.