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Club fosters political discussions

Christian Gastelum, Jenni Peterson, Anthony Reyes and Vanessa Marroquin gather for the first Democratic Student Alliance executive board meeting in the Learning Enhancement Center on Friday. The alliance was formed to support the Democratic Party and its candidates. The club hopes to sponsor a booth at the La Verne Farmer’s Market on Thursdays. / photo by Erica Castellanos

Christian Gastelum, Jenni Peterson, Anthony Reyes and Vanessa Marroquin gather for the first Democratic Student Alliance executive board meeting in the Learning Enhancement Center on Friday. The alliance was formed to support the Democratic Party and its candidates. The club hopes to sponsor a booth at the La Verne Farmer’s Market on Thursdays. / photo by Erica Castellanos

Alex Forbess
Editorial Director

The political mood spreading across the nation has motivated six students from the University of La Verne to reorganize a fresh political club, the Democratic Student Alliance, which became official in August.

Anthony Reyes, founder of the DSA, was glad that his goal became a reality ever since he posted the idea on Facebook early May.

“Our goal is to create political awareness and represent the interests of Democrats, students, alumni and faculty,” Reyes said.

Regardless if students, let alone residents of La Verne, agree with their objective, Reyes believes students should become active and aware of this election year.

“Mainly students my age do not see the value of politics,” Reyes said.

“If you want to represent change, you need to be involved and not just sit back.”

Reyes admits there were challenges, from gathering six signatures to creating an 11-page constitution, but he and his officers managed to work all the procedures to allow the Office of Student Life to approve the DSA.

This is not the first time Reyes felt compelled to have student’s voices heard.

While attending Summit High School in Fontana, he started the first Latino club, Latinos Americanos United, which still remains one of the biggest clubs on campus.

Among the officers who support Reyes’ objective are Vanessa Marroquin, DSA vice president of internal affairs. Marroquin said she was shy at first to become an active member, but three words popped in her head to convince her to join: go for it.

“There are a lot of conservatives in La Verne,” Marroquin said.

“I hope the people that join will expand their knowledge of politics and give back to the community of La Verne.” Christian Gastelum, secretary of the DSA, said.

Gastelum has experience as a member of the Young Democrats, a club at Walnut High School.

Regardless of political affiliation, he said he hopes this club will bring people to discuss current political events.

“I believe I have the motivation to keep this club growing,” Gastelum said.

Marroquin said another challenge was not only finding time for everyone to meet and organize this club but also finding an adviser to supervise the DSA.

She went to associate professor of legal studies Carolyn Bekhor to explain how she and Reyes wanted to develop a political club.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Bekhor said.

“Students should get into politics and this is an exciting year to have their voices heard.”

The approval of the DSA has gained numerous support, even from the Bonita Democratic Council, where Reyes is an intern and is helping to gain support for the Democratic Party in the local community.

“Starting a club from scratch requires the right person,” BDC founder and vice president Matthew Lyons said.

Lyons said he was impressed by the contribution Reyes and his officers made helping the BDC last Thursday at the La Verne Farmer’s Market.

“After meeting Reyes, I hope he and his friends will organize, mobilize and engage like-minded students to actively participate in our great American experiment: Democracy,” Lyons said.

While the nation is keeping in touch with the 2012 election, Lyons is confident that the DSA’s mission will be accomplished with student participation.

“I am a firm believer in Benjamin Franklin’s statement: ‘Involve me and I learn,’” Lyons said

“Through the involvement of the DSA, student will learn about politics and public service and become active students on campus and participating citizens in their communities.”

Lyons warned Reyes of more unique challenges they will face from opposing views.

“He said we may get dirty looks but it has been good so far,” Reyes said.

Reyes said that officers and other students interested in the DA come from not just from political science but various studies such as biology and theater.

While Reyes and his officers were in the progress of making this club official, they heard a rumor of a Republican club being introduced as well.

The DA said they would like that, allowing students to hear both sides of the political landscape.

“I believe a political atmosphere is important for the university,” Reyes said.

Alex Forbess can be reached at alex.forbess@laverne.edu.

Correction
In the story “Club fosters political discussions” in the Sept. 7 issue of the Campus Times, the Democratic Student Alliance was misidentified as the Democratic Alliance. The Campus Times regrets the error.

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