Point Counterpoint: Attack on allocable segregated fees will have dire consequences

Republicans' willingness to slash funding for vital student resources shows lack of concern for education

Mar. 29, 2017

The latest victim of the Republican-controlled state Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker’s many attacks on college education could be the numerous services funded by segregated fees that so many students rely on.

Every semester, students pay about $89 as part of the allocable segregated fees, which fund things like our bus passes; Student Print; organizations like Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment and Veterans, Educators, and Traditional Students; and many other services and student organizations. About $8 of the $89 goes specifically to usage and maintenance of the Student Activity Center’s facilities, which houses many student organizations.

If Walker’s proposed budget passes as is, students could choose not to pay the $89 in allocable fees, thus reducing the total money supply the school and student government can work with to pay for these services, eventually reducing the services we as students receive. While this may seem like a way to save students money, in reality, this would jeopardize services almost every University of Wisconsin student needs.

Walker has proposed every student should have a job or an internship during their time in college. How are we supposed to get to these jobs if our bus passes are defunded? Jobs within walking distance from our homes are not always an option, and the bus pass that Associated Students of Madison funds, saves students much-needed time and money.

Our bus passes will not be the only thing on the chopping block if the opt out policy passes.

Working Class Student Union, Wisconsin Black Student Union, Badger Catholic, PAVE, Sex Out Loud, Greater University Tutoring Service, Badger SPILL, Campus Women’s Center, VETS, the Tenant Resource Center, the Rape Crisis Center and so many other organization could lose funding and be forced to discontinue the work that they do to better the lives of students.

Not only would the opt out directly affect university-funded student organizations, but it could also render the ASM Grant Allocation Committee obsolete. This committee provides funding for hundreds of student orgs to do things like bring in speakers and travel to conferences and conventions. Both the College Democrats and the College Republicans have taken advantage of these grants.

In addition to the defunding of our student orgs, the very building in which many of them are housed may not be available for general student use anymore. Since ASM may not have enough money to keep renting out the space, the SAC may very well fall into private hands. It could be turned into apartments, stores or anything else that can turn a profit, which unfortunately does not come from allowing students to study for free in the space.

Another likely outcome could be that the SAC would just charge organizations to use it: Any of the more than 100 organizations that applied for space in the SAC, or the 200 organizations that wanted to reserve rooms in the space would be charged, placing yet another burden on orgs that lose university funding or no longer have access to ASM grants.

Republicans claim students should be able to opt out of something that does not represent their views. These legislators conveniently ignore the fact ASM is legally bound by viewpoint neutrality and cannot choose to fund organizations based on the personal biases of student representatives.

If segregated fees are eliminated, ASM will no longer be subject to viewpoint neutrality, and thus millions of dollars will be allocated according to the ideologies of the current student government.

When many of us first stepped onto campus, we were told joining a student organization would be crucial in making our time at UW a fulfilling and well-rounded experience. Would this still ring true when the power of our nearly 900 organizations is significantly diminished?

If the strength of our organizations is significantly reduced because of a lack of funding, our variety of student organizations — which provide the unique opportunities for students to learn outside of the classroom that UW boasts — will be gone.

Republicans are completely out of touch with how their decisions will affect students’ lives all over the state.

Republicans cannot claim to support education, students and the growth of one of our state’s greatest institutions without recognizing that student services funded by allocable segregated fees are an integral part in student life. Students love coming to UW, and they find success because of their experience at this university because we are able to apply the knowledge we learn from our esteemed professors outside of the classroom.

By limiting access to these opportunities, the opt out would fundamentally diminish the character of our campus and all UW schools.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science. 

Point Counterpoint: The only catastrophe related to ACA would be repealing it

Republicans blind hatred of 'Obamacare' is not rooted in fact, endangers American lives

Mar. 7, 2017

After victories in November, Republicans in Congress and in the White House have felt emboldened to deliver on their campaign promise to “repeal and replace ‘Obamacare,’” but do they have the mandate to take such drastic action on legislation that has insured more than 22 million Americans? Despite Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and a Republican White House, only 26 percent of Americans favor a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Elements of the ACA have widespread bipartisan support across the country. Individuals under 26 can now stay on their parents’ insurance plan, those who need health care the most can no longer be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition and women can no longer be charged more than men simply because of their gender.

Families like College Democrats Chair Augie McGinnity-Wake’s used to be burdened with extremely high premiums before the ACA, because of his father’s pre-existing heart condition.

“The Affordable Care Act is one of the reasons I can afford to go to college,” McGinnity-Wake explained. “When the ACA passed, the premiums my family had to pay per year lowered by thousands of dollars.”

A complete repeal before an adequate replacement has been passed, a repeal that would kick millions of Americans off of their health insurance plan or force premiums to skyrocket to alarming rates, would be irresponsible at best. But it seems that this is just what Republicans in Congress are dead set on doing.

Republicans are completely divided on how, when and with what to “repeal and replace” the ACA. There is now even debate about whether to use the phrase “repeal and replace” anymore. The few concrete ideas that have been laid out will only result in coverage that is harder to get and provides inferior care. The “specific” plan recently laid out by house Republicans is anything but specific. The only thing the plan really goes into detail about, is its hyperbolized criticism of the ACA. It was even criticized by other Republicans for its lack of detail regarding a replacement plan.

According to PolitiFact, the complete repeal approach before an adequate replacement has been developed could result in insurance rates rising at alarming rates, collapse of the insurance markets created by the ACA and an increase in the federal deficit by removing ACA-created subsidies without decreasing the cost of health care overall. This could all result in a crisis for the health care and the health insurance industries, not to mention the fact that millions of people will lose the coverage they so desperately need. The GOP health care plan redirects federal funding towards wealthier Americans over those who need it the most and does not specify how it would provide continuing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

The plan also involves a complete defunding of Planned Parenthood, which would eliminate crucial services like cancer screenings, STI testing, prenatal care and low-cost birth control for millions of low-income women. Medicaid expansion will also receive a serious cut in funding from the federal government, resulting in devastating effects on low-income families who rely on federally-backed insurance programs for the care that they need.

It has been made clear to the American people that the ACA is not the catastrophic law that Republican legislators have spent years claiming it is. The plan Republicans have been claiming will be better is not so perfect and potentially non-existent. Republicans have realized that the complete overhaul of our nation’s health care system that they have dreamed of for so long may not be as easy as they thought. Some “new” Republican health care policies like the “continuing coverage incentives” seem oddly similar to former President Barack Obama’s individual mandate that many Republicans ranted and raved against.

Republicans in Congress have yet to prove that their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will provide better coverage, at lower costs, to more people. Health care is a human right and our government should continue to work toward policies that achieve this right for every person in America.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Point Counterpoint: We must protect ourselves from school choice, Betsy DeVos

Feb. 22, 2017

With the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education just barely squeaking by on the Senate floor, it is clear many Americans are skeptical of the sweeping education reforms DeVos has vowed to champion.

School choice is a good idea in theory. Failing schools close, and students of those schools are sent to better public schools, charter schools or given private school vouchers. People like DeVos have heralded charter schools as the simple solution to our failing education system for years, even though charter schools often perform worse than traditional public schools but are shut down at a much lower rate.

It’s no wonder DeVos does not support holding charter schools to the same federal accountability standards as traditional public schools. Eighty percent of the charter schools in the Detroit Charter School System she is largely credited with creating had academic achievement below the state average in reading and math.

School choice only helps children who live in already privileged communities. Closing down a failing public school that serves primarily low-income students often shifts their option from a failing public school to a failing charter school. Working parents and single parents often don’t have the time to research the many different schools their child has access to. Without the means to ensure their children go to the best charter school, “school choice” is not left to the family but to a lottery. Randomization is no way to ensure every child’s needs are met by their school. Private school vouchers often help only a tiny percentage of students, if they are offered at all.

School choice may also affect rural communities DeVos has clearly given very little thought to. Local public schools often serve as anchors in rural communities, frequently doubling as the only sports programs and food assistance programs in the area.

School choice is not even beneficial in theory for many rural areas. New charter schools often drain resources from a community’s education budget, and can be impossibly far away for many students. There simply are not enough students in many rural areas to justify a large education “market.” In addition, forcing school systems to pay for students’ busing to the school of their choice could be financially catastrophic.

The threat to Wisconsin public schools from this new administration only adds to the list of reasons why Wisconsinites need to re-elect Tony Evers for state superintendent in April.

Evers is a progressive champion of education who will continue to fight to ensure every child has the option to go to a good neighborhood public school. Evers believes treating education like a market is no way to ensure every student has a fair shot at a good future. He will continue to invest in students and ensure funding for education is distributed equitably among communities across Wisconsin. Investing in students, for Evers, means investing in local neighborhood schools to ensure children always have a place to learn that is committed to the community and the specific needs of the children who live in it.

With the attacks on public education coming just weeks into the new administration, it is clear Wisconsin needs a progressive champion overseeing its schools now more than ever.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Point Counterpoint: ‘Wisconsin Works for Everyone’ won’t succeed in an economy failing everyone

Walker's initiative intends to slash food stamp benefits, adversely impact children of welfare recipients

Feb. 7, 2017

With a title like “Wisconsin Works for Everyone,” one should immediately be skeptical about it working for anyone. Gov. Scott Walker’s new initiative, unsurprisingly, does not work for everyone.

Under the plan, parents could see their food stamp benefits cut if they do not work more than 80 hours per month. This type of law has been in effect for childless adults since April 2015 and since then, about 21,000 able-bodied food stamp recipients have found work, and about 64,000 have lost their benefits.

Punishing struggling families with public assistance cuts is not only counterproductive but hurts thousands of children across Wisconsin. This plan demonstrated cause for concern even when it only affected childless adults, and the implications for the potential damage it could do to families is even more distressing.

This legislation is just another insight into the complete hypocrisy of the office of Walker, who hands out millions in tax breaks to wealthy corporations with no strings attached while benefits for poor families are slashed time and again.

The plan is also set to include the possibility of drug-testing welfare recipients, which has been proven to cost more money than it saves and pushes those who most need benefits further into poverty. The numbers speak for themselves — in states where this policy was enacted, the number of people on public assistance using drugs was marginal. In Florida, for example, only 2.6 percent of the applicants tested positive for drug use. In addition, the most common drug used was marijuana, not hard drugs such as heroin or methamphetamines.

In Tennessee, another state with a drug testing policy, only 1 of the 800 people who applied for welfare tested positive. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1 in 10 of the general population aged 12 and older had used illicit drugs in the last month.

Although Walker claims this plan would only take away benefits from parents, and not adversely affect their children, it is impossibly vague and therefore impossible to know. Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, fears the plan “lacks details” and does not provide answers for how a cut to the total benefits a family receives will not affect the children.

Stacy Dean, for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, specializes in food assistance programs. Her concern is parents may be disqualified from Food Share if they struggle to find a job, so Wisconsin must be prepared to supply job openings to all parents who need them.

Walker’s plan involves a potential change in federal law and could potentially kick parents off Food Share if they can’t find a job on their own. With a unified Republican government this remains a possibility.

“It would be unprecedented,” Dean said.

Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, called Walker’s plan “morally unfair and unjust.”

“We must treat people with dignity and respect and provide them with real opportunities if we actually want to improve crisis-level poverty in Wisconsin communities and across our nation,” Johnson said.

Though Walker’s plan has a flashy name, similar programs have shown nothing resembling a lift out of poverty for low-income individuals and families. Programs which cut public assistance benefits inevitably hurt more people than they help and drive those in most dire need further into poverty. The government must first take responsibility for its citizens by creating an economy that works for everyone instead of focusing our taxpayer dollars on gutting and warping programs designed to help those who most need it.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science. 

Point Counterpoint: Why you should join College Democrats

Now is the time for cynicism to become passionate activism, so join the Dems as we fight

Jan. 24, 2017

There is no doubt the past fall was rough for anyone who decided to turn on the news or even simply log onto Facebook. It is easy to shut yourself off from the world of politics completely after such a tumultuous election.

Deleting all social media and never watching TV again might seem tempting, but it is far from whatever candidate you so passionately supported would encourage. It is now more important than ever for students to remain engaged in the political process, at all levels of government: local, state and national.

College Democrats will be working hard this semester to encourage our elected leaders to consider the progressive values so many of their constituents share.

Even though we just got through an election cycle, there are more elections right around the corner. Spring races for local officials are critical in electing leaders who effect tangible change right in our own backyard.

Last spring, College Democrats helped elect Hayley Young to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Young was a tireless advocate for students during her campaign and has continued to work for solutions to issues on our campus during her time in office.

This semester, College Democrats will be working to ensure that those elected to City Council, Madison School Board and other local offices have strong progressive values to strengthen our community.

Elections aren’t the only way of affecting change this semester. Issue advocacy is more important than ever, and this semester is critical for all University of Wisconsin students —  the Wisconsin Legislature will pass the biennial budget.

The budget has a tremendous effect on what resources will be available to students on campus, based on how much funding the state Legislature decides to provide for our university. The last round of budget cuts the state imposed on the UW system slashed many programs throughout the state and limited the ability of our esteemed professors to continue groundbreaking research.

We cannot allow UW to lose its world-class reputation because our officials decide it isn’t worth funding. Republican legislators have discussed deeply troubling proposals, such as tying state funding to teaching or not teaching certain courses and requiring certain speakers to come to campus. These types of proposals slash the heart of the Wisconsin Idea and the academic freedom of our university.

The College Democrats have the organizing power to work with legislators who are fighting for students from inside the Capitol and put pressure on those who favor more cuts. The College Democrats can effectively show lawmakers student voices matter, especially when the decisions made in the Capitol directly affect our future.

This election cycle was tough — Democratic losses were even tougher — but the most important thing to gain from 2016 was the determination exemplified in so many of our candidates. We must take the energy we had during the campaign, the fierce commitment to fighting for what is right, and keep going.

Politics certainly does not stop after the last ballots is cast, and the steps toward progress have only begun. Join College Democrats, make your voice heard and keep fighting for progressive change.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Letter to the Editor: Health care should be a right for every American

Affordable Care Act granted coverage to many who wouldn't get it otherwise

Nov. 29, 2016

As Democrats, we believe every American should have access to quality, affordable health care. And we believe you should make your coverage and medical decisions, not big insurance companies.

Before the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans lacked access to quality, affordable health insurance, and even those who did have coverage had little protection against insurance company abuses.

Health care reform changed the course of history in this country, and today, no American can be discriminated against because of a preexisting condition. The days of lifetime caps on coverage are gone and more Americans than ever before have the peace of mind that comes along with being covered.

The ACA has not only covered roughly 20 million Americans, but has also provided security to all citizens who have insurance, no matter the source. Those under 26 can now stay on their parents’ insurance plan, preexisting conditions no longer disqualifies those who need it most from having quality and affordable coverage and women can no longer be charged more than men simply because of their gender.

One of the major accomplishments of the ACA was medicaid expansion. This expansion gave federal funding to states in order to close what is referred to as the “medicaid gap,” allowing those who previously could not afford insurance but did not previously qualify for medicaid to be covered.

Unfortunately, in Wisconsin that didn’t happen even though we paid for it. Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in Madison played politics with people’s health care by turning down federal Medicaid funds. This decision will cost the taxpayers of Wisconsin more than $678.6 million by 2017.

President Barack Obama’s time in office and the work of many other Democrats around the country has also made a huge impact on the state of women’s health in America.

The Obama Administration has ensured that Planned Parenthood will be federally funded until 2018, this will provide millions of women much needed access to breast cancer screenings, STI testing, birth control and so many other essential services.

Republicans have already threatened to shut down the government because of Planned Parenthood and President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to cower to the far right wing of his party and sign any bill that eliminates so many essential health services for women in America.

Even though the ACA has decreased the number of uninsured Americans by more than 35 percent, Republicans continue their efforts to repeal this crucial piece of legislation, which would take away health insurance from millions, just to score cheap political points. The Democratic Party sees health care as a fundamental human right for all people, not just for those who can afford the ever higher costs of coverage.

Health care should be affordable, accessible and meet the individual needs of those who are receiving care. Obama and Democrats around the country have made so much progress toward making this idea a reality nation-wide. There is no doubt that our country should continue to build on their success in the coming years.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Why you should vote for Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential nominee has proven track record of advocating progressive ideals

Oct. 25, 2016

Just two weeks from today tens of millions of people around the country will be lining up to cast their ballots and determine the future of our country. Many students on our campus and campuses around the country will be voting in a presidential election for the very first time. I am proud to say that my first presidential vote will be for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I am not just voting for Clinton because she is my party’s nominee or because she will be the first female president — I am voting for her because I know she will fight for every single American.

Her platform is the most progressive in the history of the Democratic Party and she will not rest for a second during her presidency to implement her plans. Even Donald Trump had to admit that she never gives up.

There has never been a candidate more qualified for our nation’s highest office than Clinton. She has proven time and time again that her competence and capability are not to be underestimated.

As first lady, she worked to provide health insurance to over 8 million children. As a New York senator she worked to raise the minimum wage, increase veteran’s benefits, provide access to proper reproductive healthcare for all women, close the gender pay gap and ensure that 9/11 first responders received the medical care they needed.

As secretary of state, she visited more countries than any of her predecessors (112 to be exact), made the case for the mission to eradicate Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda counterparts, helped craft and maintain the sanctions against Iran’s nuclear stock, tirelessly worked with the global community to combat climate change and continued to work to promote gender equality and expand opportunities for women and children. That’s what I call stamina.

It says a lot about a candidate when such an exhaustive list of accomplishments barely scratches the surface of the incredible work they have done. But there is barely time to focus on Clinton’s past achievements — she has a plan for the future.

Not only does Clinton have a plan, she has a plan for that plan. Her ideas for America are not made in vague terms and empty promises — she has more than 40 detailed policy proposals on her website and has gone across the country listening to the issues every American faces.

Clinton does not base her positions off of outlandish ideas and divisive rhetoric. She hears what Americans need and makes a plan to address it.

Clinton will protect all the progress that people like President Obama, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., made. We cannot risk jeopardizing health care access, environmental protection and minimum wage increases.

Now is not the time sit on the sidelines or walk away. There is too much at stake. Americans deserve the best. Commit to vote for Clinton — she knows America is great because America is good.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Point Counterpoint: Feingold clearly better than Johnson for Senate

Feingold is the right choice if you want an advocate for your interests in Congress.

Oct. 11, 2016

This election cycle, we are witnessing history being made and the stakes are higher than ever. With all of the attention focused on the presidential election, it is easy to forget about down-ballot elections that can have an equally consequential impact on our nation’s future.

The race between Democratic Senate nominee Russ Feingold and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is pivotal to break the gridlock in Congress.

A Feingold victory would give the Democrats a real chance for a Senate majority and the ability to put forth and pass the progressive agenda that people like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and so many others have fought for their  entire lives.

Feingold would not just be a vote in favor of the Democrats on the Senate floor, he is a fighter. Feingold spent three terms in the Senate fighting for Wisconsin families, women, students and our environment. He has vowed to continue his efforts if he is elected in November, and this is far from an empty claim. Major figures like Sanders and Warren have attested to Feingold’s progressive credentials, but his record speaks for itself.

When Feingold visited campus last fall he didn’t just come for Ian’s Pizza or to talk Badger football, he listened to student concerns, most notably, those about the massive debt that many will face upon graduation. Feingold has made it clear that students, not corporations and billionaires, are his priority in solving the crisis of college affordability. He has shown unwavering support for Warren’s bill that would allow students to refinance their loans and Clinton’s plan for debt free college.

Johnson, Feingold’s opponent, does not even believe the federal student loan program should exist, stating that students view their loans as “free money” and that we “don’t really understand finance.” Wisconsin students need to elect a Senator who advocates for us, not who condescends to us. Our current senator is out of touch with today’s students, he cites his own experience of working through college but fails to mention is that tuition at the University of Minnesota was only $600 when he attended, and has since increased by 470 percent.

Currently, Wisconsinites have a senator that has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding for issues facing women in the state. Johnson has voted five times against the Paycheck Fairness Act. To make matters worse, Johnson brushes off  the gender pay gap as a “myth.” During his time in office, Feingold has been an advocate for issues facing women. He supports legislation that would ensure a woman can get paid the same as a man in the same position. Feingold’s stellar record of advocating for women’s rights has earned him the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, just to name a couple.

Johnson doesn’t seem to have any spare time in between critiquing the financial know-how of students and trying to take away access to basic reproductive healthcare. He can’t even find a minute to listen to 97 percent of scientists who say that climate change is real. Johnson doesn’t even believe the planet is getting warmer, and says any temperature fluctuations are caused by sunspots.

We need a senator who will fight for the health of our planet, not just side with big corporations. Feingold has proved that he will be a champion for environmental legislation. The League of Conservation Voters has made it a top priority of their organization to get Feingold back to Washington.

Whether you are a student, a parent, a union worker or a young professional entering the workforce, Feingold is the right choice if you want an advocate for your interests in Congress.

While Johnson has been fighting for people like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Feingold has proven that he puts Wisconsin first.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Point Counterpoint: Clinton is only candidate capable of handling national security

Former Secretary of State has encouraged Americans to go abroad, build mutual understanding

Sept. 26, 2016

This November, our country has a choice. In the age of globalization, we are more interconnected with the world than ever before. We must choose how we will present ourselves to a world that now watches our every move.

Are we going to be welcoming and inclusive or isolationist and hostile? Will we stay true to the principles our country was founded on or shut ourselves off and give in to fear?

We cannot give in to the racist, Islamophobic and fear-mongering rhetoric the man at the top of the GOP ticket promotes. America is better than this. Leaders like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold believe in taking swift and forceful action to protect Americans both at home and abroad, without resorting to tactics fundamentally contrary to American ideals.

Clinton and Feingold believe in targeted military efforts as well as strengthened diplomatic relations to bring stability to the global community. They also know our foreign policy does not begin and end with combating ISIS and barring all immigrants from our country. They realize inclusivity and diversity is what makes the United States great.

Both the Feingold and Clinton campaigns have put forth plans that encourage Americans to volunteer abroad to build bridges and promote mutual understanding. Our greatest diplomatic dilemmas will never be solved if we refuse to listen to the advice of the international community. Republican nominee Donald Trump has criticized the UN, praised the anti-immigration motivation for the UK leaving the EU and threatened to remove the United States from NATO. We need a president who understands the importance of international institutions. What better representative to the global community than a woman who has already served as our top diplomat?

With all of the focus on terrorism centering around ISIS and other dangerous threats abroad, it’s easy to forget that the biggest threat to the security of American lives has nothing to do with our foreign policy. According to the Center for Disease Control, 91 Americans, on average, are killed with guns every day. No politician can claim to fight for the safety and security of Americans but not fight for restrictive gun legislation to help safety on the homefront.

A majority of Americans believe universal background checks should be necessary when buying a gun, and passing this common sense legislation would not only improve the safety of the entire country but also show that our Congress actually votes based on the opinions of the people who elect them. Clinton has a comprehensive gun safety plan that will improve the lives of all Americans, while Trump listens only to lobbyists from the National Rifle Association.

So in this election, we must choose. Our options are between Trump, a candidate who has repeatedly advocated for war crimes, and Clinton, someone who has long worked with the international community to solve our greatest problems. We need someone with concrete plans to address this nation’s security concerns, not someone who simply incites fear with no solutions in sight.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Point Counterpoint: Why you should join the College Democrats

Strong campus presence, opportunities to work with elected officials are reasons to be a part of our organization

Sept. 19, 2016

This election cycle has been like nothing our country has ever seen before. This year, the College Democrats of the University of Wisconsin will be working tirelessly to ensure that we elect progressive leaders who will move our state and our country forward. Our organization will continue to work toward a more inclusive and supportive campus climate for every single student in Madison.

Our activity on campus is stronger than ever. As the official student branch of the Democratic Party on campus, our institutional support from the Democratic Party sets us apart from other student organizations since members of College Democrats are well equipped with the skills necessary to be successful in political internships and careers.

Joining College Democrats connects you to a network of other like minded students across Wisconsin who are working toward similar goals. Throughout the year, our organization presents many opportunities for members to travel to other parts of the state to meet and share ideas with students from other chapters. These events include ones like the Regional Summit and Convention, which College Democrats of Wisconsin specifically sponsors, providing students with opportunities to work directly with elected officials, party leaders and their peers. Just this past year, College Democrats were the first students to know about opportunities to volunteer at the Democratic Presidential Debate in Milwaukee and participate in the Democratic Leadership Institute.

With student debt and funding for higher education being such hot topics in political campaigns at the moment, it is imperative, now more than ever, that students have a seat at the table within the political process.

As an active member of College Democrats, students are allowed to experience exceptional access to elected officials and to make their voice heard to the people who have the greatest capability to affect real change. Our organization accounts for reform that can be made at all levels of government. We stress the importance of local elections to our members to ensure that progressives are elected to every office capable of affecting our lives as students.

This election cycle is too important to sit out. Student loan reform and the cost of higher education will only ever serve as campaign rhetoric if students take action. UW’s College Democrats is the best organization to facilitate relationships between students and elected officials. These relationships ensure that the progressive voices of students are heard loud and clear in the legislature.

It is our organization that is knocking doors, making phone calls and providing the student perspective on hot button policy issues. College Democrats are working to elect leaders like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., proven progressives who will fight for the interests of students and families. Students not only will have the satisfaction of being at the front lines of the progressive fight in this historic election but our efforts will be recognized by those who have the power to change our lives for the better.

Eliana Locke (elocke2@wisc.edu) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

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