Last year at this time, the University of Tennessee College Democrats had more than 200 members; one year later, the group is sending out e-mails to more than 1,000 members, a number that continues to grow every day.
This huge surge in membership has not gone unnoticed, either. On June 27, the UT Democrats were present at the College Democrats National Convention, where Tennessee was named “Federation of the Year,” for great organization and the major increase in members.
Alex Youn, the vice president of the Tennessee Federation of College Democrats, said this award would not have come without the democrats of UT.
“UT has the biggest chapter in the state. They are a driving force in the democrats of Tennessee,” UT College Democrats President Caitlin Elledge said. She credits the membership climb to the organization’s high visibility on campus, great organization and a dedicated executive board.
“Our goal was and still is to get every democrat on campus signed up,” Elledge said. “I would sometimes be up all night working and posting flyers, but it has been worth it.”
The College Democrats’ advisor, Will Jennings, believes the membership increase over the past year is due to “national frustration” with President Bush.
“The Harold Ford campaign is really targeting young people for support,” Jennings said.
The College Democrats held their first meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 30 in the University Center’s Shiloh room, with close to 200 people present.
Schree Pettigrew, a candidate for House District 18, was present at the meeting, as was newly-elected County Commissioner Mark Harmon. Both politicians spoke on how they would not be where they were politically had it not been for UT’s College Democrats. Other speakers included representatives from the Harold Ford Jr. for Senate campaign and Governor Phil Bredesen’s reelection campaign, informing students that the candidates were looking for volunteers and offering internships.
Also in attendance was Nicholas Bishop, a junior, who made headlines by being elected to the Morgan County Commission. Everyone attending the meeting received the Democrats’ new t-shirts.
The program’s director, Bo Creason, said the next concern for college democrats is voter registration.
“We want to get every student registered to vote and also to change their voting registration to Knoxville so that way students will have easy access and be able to vote at the UC,” Creason said. “College Democrats isn’t just all work and no play, but we have several house parties and a couple of trips planned for the upcoming year. We think it’s important for people to have a good time and stay involved.”