After the results of the election, more than ever students are concerned about democracy. The Democracy Matters club was recently formed. Co-Presidents Mary Stevens and Franklin Sklar are interested in having a diverse amount of people in club. They want to focus on actions. Democracy Matters is a non-partisan organization. Anyone is free to come and talk about the issues they care about and want to see addressed. The meetings are held in the Old Mail Room on Tuesdays at 7 p.m..
Democracy Matters is part of a larger national organization. There are chapters at multiple colleges and universities such as, University of California Berkley, Miami University of Ohio, Queens College, Southern Methodist, University of Texas Austin, Colgate University and more.
According to the Democracy Matters website: “Democracy Matters, a non-partisan campus-based national student organization, works to get big private money out of politics and people back in. Offering paid internships to undergraduates, Democracy Matters mentors the next generation of leaders dedicated to strengthening our democracy. Students organize actions and projects connecting pro-democracy reforms to issues of environment, civil rights, education, health care, foreign policy, and more.”
“New College is the first Florida school to be a part of Democracy Matters,” co-President of the club, third-year Mary Stevens said.
The group was founded by National Basketball Association (NBA) player Adonal Foyle and his parents, Joan and Jay Mandle. Foyle is a poet and an activist while his parents are Colgate University professors.
The Democracy Matters website also states: “Our mission is to strengthen democracy by: (1) training young people how to be effective grassroots organizers and advocates, and (2) supporting public financing of election campaigns (“fair elections”) and other pro-democracy reforms.”
“We are all about Citizens United,” Stevens said. “Because it allows corporations to donate millions of dollars to people’s campaigns. […] [Corporations] are not a person, it’s a business.”
Democracy Matters works to allow people to be in more control of what goes on in elections.
“We want to put elections back in the hands of citizens,” Stevens added. “We need to change things.”
Stevens said that the club wants to work towards making Florida a state that has publicly funded elections, therefore there would not be money from large corporations. She said that there are already United States municipalities that implement this practice, but the club wants to make it a national standard.
The club has also already been working on a petition that would allow classes to be canceled on election days.
“I want to expand [canceled classes on election day] outside of New College to other colleges in the area and the state,” Stevens said. “Even though we have early voting, a lot of student like to go on election day. […] It is a big deal.”
The club would also like to provide more information on local elections, so that students and the community at large can be more informed.
The club is hoping to host New College professors and leaders in the community who can share their knowledge on local and national politics.
“If you know there is an election,” Stevens added. “You are going to want to know who is up election and what they stand for.”
The Democracy Matters club has just began, and they are hoping to increase interest. On the night of the election, NCF Democrats club and Democracy Matters hosted a viewing party featuring vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and meat tacos.
“Even though the election is over,” Stevens said. “The work is not over.”
The Democracy Matters club is open to first, second, third-years, thesis students as well as members of the larger Sarasota-Manatee community. Politics affect everyone, so everyone is welcome to get involved.