Political Group Hosts Week of Events

Margaret Powers

Last week, Colgate students hosted Democracy Matters Week, a week dedicated to encouraging Colgate students to become more aware of important political issues and participate in the upcoming elections. Democracy Matters is a nonpartisan group on campus whose focus is campaign finance reform.

“We want money out of politics,” sophomore coordinator of Democracy Matters Lydia Gottesfeld said. “Our current system is too based on money. With clean money elections, politicians will be free to talk with constituents and not be as tied down to their financial supporters.”

Democracy Matters hopes to raise awareness for the issue of campaign finance and is working on lobbying politicians to pass a bill – one is currently up for review in the Senate – regarding this issue. The week not only addressed campaign finance, but was also an effort to engage students in political participation in general.

The Debate Society collaborated with Democracy Matters to host a student debate on the federal clean elections bill. They also held a brown bag discussion on activism and showed the film The Big Buy: Tom Delay’s Stolen Congress. Democracy Matters set-up a table in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) all week long to register voters for the upcoming elections.

The highlight of the week, however, was the keynote speech by Adonal Foyle ’98 on Thursday, September 21 in Love auditorium. Foyle, a professional NBA player for the Golden State Warriors, founded Democracy Matters in 2001 to give college students a voice in politics and a role in the debate over campaign finance.

During his speech, Foyle encouraged students to take an active role in politics.

“The social movement that we need today is disarmingly simple, but it is basic to giving us back our voice in politics,” Foyle said. “What we need to do is change the way our political system funds election campaigns. We need to make sure that politicians are no longer so dependent on a small group of elite campaign contributors and special interests.”

Foyle said that the only way to involve the younger generation in politics is by having “clean elections” so that everyone is on equal footing.

Gottesfeld hopes that Democracy Matters Week encouraged students to participate more actively in the political domain. Even the simple action of voting can make a difference.

“We hope to create a more politically aware campus in general,” Gottesfeld said. “We want to make sure every student on campus is registered to vote and knows how to obtain an absentee ballot. The 2006 midterm elections are very important.”