Student RSOs spread political activism on campus

Students+congregate+while+members+of+the+Young+Democratic+Socialists+of+America+protest+during+the+Earth+Strike+in+front+of+Alma+Mater+on+Sept.+20.+RSOs+are+working+together+to+encourage+students+to+explore+their+options+before+the+next+election.
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Student RSOs spread political activism on campus

Students congregate while members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America protest during the Earth Strike in front of Alma Mater on Sept. 20. RSOs are working together to encourage students to explore their options before the next election.

Students congregate while members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America protest during the Earth Strike in front of Alma Mater on Sept. 20. RSOs are working together to encourage students to explore their options before the next election.

Brian Bauer

Students congregate while members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America protest during the Earth Strike in front of Alma Mater on Sept. 20. RSOs are working together to encourage students to explore their options before the next election.

Brian Bauer

Brian Bauer

Students congregate while members of the Young Democratic Socialists of America protest during the Earth Strike in front of Alma Mater on Sept. 20. RSOs are working together to encourage students to explore their options before the next election.

By Kimberly Belser, Staff Writer

Months before the Illinois primaries are scheduled to take place, a new student organization has formed at the University to help students “view their options” for the upcoming elections. 

John Spellman, junior in LAS and founder of Illini for Yang, said the organization currently considers itself as a third-party student group looking to promote Andrew Yang and the movement that comes with the “forward-thinking” political game. However, the organization is not yet an RSO. 

In a Reddit post inviting students to join the group, Spellman referred to Illini for Yang as an organization looking to help students “view their options” for the Illinois primaries. 

“When we say we want to let people know their options, we hope that through our activism and through promoting Yang’s image and his policies that they’ll find his message sort of relatable, and that’s what we’re looking to do; to just boost his awareness and hopefully his performance in the Illinois primaries in March,” Spellman said. 

He said the group is working to collect over 10,000 signatures to present to the Illinois State Board of Elections to get Yang on the ballot, along with other different media, marketing and campaign strategies. 

Spellman said his childhood was heavily affected by the 2008-09 financial crisis. He said when Yang talks about reworking the economy so it benefits people at the bottom of the capitalist system first, the floor for them is essentially lifted by a universal basic income, and the weight that would affect the economy is massive. 

Through legitimate conversations with students about what matters to them politically, the most important aspect is how he and the organizers within the group communicate their support for Yang to students, Spellman said. 

Anthony Giometti, junior in LAS and social outreach coordinator for the Illini Republicans, said the purpose of his RSO is to spread awareness and activism about who Republicans are and how they support local Republicans on campus, like Champaign Congressman Rodney Davis. 

Giometti said the Illini Republicans support both local and national candidates but also try to go beyond providing support for political figures. 

He said the organization has recently done tabling on the Main Quad for local candidate Mark Sheldon and also helped with the Rodney Davis campaign. Helping with the 2020 national campaign for Republican candidates like President Donald Trump, however, is a matter of which he said he does not know the organization’s plans. 

He said the Illini Republicans want to show support for Davis because they have a close connection with people that work for his team. Giometti said he knows people in the club that have worked with the team in the past and thinks the majority believe in his values and the policies he brings to Washington.

“With most people supporting him in that way, that we feel like we should help and get him elected for his next term,” he said. 

Nikolas Pfanner, junior in LAS, is the president of the Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter at the University.

He said the organization provides outreach through tabling events on the Main Quad, registering people to vote, helping with the national and local campaign and working with institutions whose values are similar to their own. 

However, Pfanner said the organization is not a Bernie Sanders club.

“Our political activism is the surrounding electoralism, and specifically the 2020 campaign, is a part of what we do, but our political activism and our view of politics, I think, is much broader than just elections,” he said. “Elections are an important way to affect real change in society, but there are other ways to do it, too, and so we focus on things kind of broadly, I guess.” 

He said Sanders’ values and his vision for creating an equitable country lines up the closest with the way he thinks change is needed. If Sanders were elected, the policies he would want to implement, such as free public college and Medicare for all, would benefit Pfanner and his friends, he said. 

“These programs, if implemented, would make the lives of many people much, much easier. And so I think … that brings an enthusiasm for his candidacy, which is rare,” Pfanner said. 

Spellman said Yang is a good alternative to the other candidates.

“When people can get involved with us, we hope they get their friends involved, and we hope they talk to their friends and family about what they’re doing,” Spellman said. “(There are) no downsides to being an activist group and to being excited about our candidate and the future.” 

The Illini Democrats did not respond in time for comment. 

[email protected]

 

Months before the Illinois primaries are scheduled to take place, a new student organization has formed at the University to help students “view their options” for the upcoming elections. 

John Spellman, junior in LAS and founder of Illini for Yang, said the organization currently considers itself as a third-party student group looking to promote Andrew Yang and the movement that comes with the “forward-thinking” political game. However, the organization is not yet an RSO. 

In a Reddit post inviting students to join the group, Spellman referred to Illini for Yang as an organization looking to help students “view their options” for the Illinois primaries. 

“When we say we want to let people know their options, we hope that through our activism and through promoting Yang’s image and his policies that they’ll find his message sort of relatable, and that’s what we’re looking to do; to just boost his awareness and hopefully his performance in the Illinois primaries in March,” Spellman said. 

He said the group is working to collect over 10,000 signatures to present to the Illinois State Board of Elections to get Yang on the ballot, along with other different media, marketing and campaign strategies. 

Spellman said his childhood was heavily affected by the 2008-09 financial crisis. He said when Yang talks about reworking the economy so that it benefits people at the bottom of the capitalist system first, the floor for them is essentially lifted by a universal basic income, and the weight that would affect the economy is massive. 

Through legitimate conversations with students about what matters to them politically, the most important aspect is how he and the organizers within the group communicate their support for Yang to students, Spellman said. 

Anthony Giometti, junior in LAS and social outreach coordinator for the Illini Republicans, said the purpose of his RSO is to spread awareness and activism about who Republicans are and how they support local Republicans on campus, like Champaign Congressman Rodney Davis. 

Giometti said the Illini Republicans support both local and national candidates but also try to go beyond providing support for political figures. 

He said the organization has recently done tabling on the Main Quad for local candidate Mark Sheldon and also helped with the Rodney Davis campaign. Helping with the 2020 national campaign for Republican candidates like President Donald Trump, however, is a matter of which he said he does not know the organization’s plans. 

He said the Illini Republicans want to show support for Davis because they have a close connection with people that work for his team. Giometti said he knows people in the club that have worked with the team in the past and thinks the majority believe in his values and the policies he brings to Washington.

“I think with most people supporting him in that way, that we feel like we should help and get him elected for his next term,” he said. 

Nikolas Pfanner, junior in LAS, is the president of the Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter at the University.

He said the organization provides outreach through tabling events on the Main Quad, registering people to vote, helping with the national and local campaign and working with institutions whose values are similar to their own. 

However, Pfanner said the organization is not a Bernie Sanders club.

“Our political activism is the surrounding electoralism, and specifically the 2020 campaign, is a part of what we do, but our political activism and our view of politics, I think, is much broader than just elections,” he said. “Elections are an important way to affect real change in society, but there are other ways to do it, too, and so we focus on things kind of broadly, I guess.” 

He said Sanders’ values and his vision for creating an equitable country lines up the closest with the way he thinks change is needed. If Sanders were elected, the policies he would want to implement, such as free public college and Medicare for all, would benefit Pfanner and his friends, he said. 

“These programs, if implemented, would make the lives of many people much, much easier. And so I think … that brings an enthusiasm for his candidacy, which is rare,” Pfanner said. 

Spellman said Yang is a good alternative to the other candidates.

“When people can get involved with us, we hope they get their friends involved, and we hope they talk to their friends and family about what they’re doing,” Spellman said. “(There are) no downsides to being an activist group and to being excited about our candidate and the future.” 

The Illini Democrats did not respond in time for comment. 

[email protected]