Every Tuesday at noon, around 15 college students meet on the second floor of the Sycamore building at College of Sequoias’ Visalia campus and discuss politics.
“Alright guys,” says TJ Greco, the president of the COS Young Democrats. “Stand for the flag salute.” Everyone shuffled their chairs, stood, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sat down. “I see some new faces, so let’s go around and introduce yourself.” He gave his name, his major, and the furthest he’d ever been away from home. The last piece of information, according to him, is always different.
California Young Democrats (CYD) is a branch of the California Democratic Party which has over 100 local chapters scattered across the state, according to its website. Any person aged 13 to 35 is able to join at a local chapter. CYD has 14 caucuses and chief among those are the California College Democrats and the California High School Democrats.
Greco explained that he had just been elected president the semester before. “This is my first semester as president,” he said with a smile. “I really wanted to push for more cooperation between clubs.”
CYD is not the only political club on campus. Indeed, the COS Greens, a Green Party club, was created just this year. “We would be willing to work with the Young Dems to campaign for progressive policies,” said Lauren Mauricio, the president of COS Greens. She comes to meetings as an ambassador for the Greens.
The College Republicans, a conservative club on campus, meets at the same time on the same day, in the same building just a floor below; it’s a symbolic separation as much as physical, though Greco hopes to change that.
“I want to focus more on doing good than partisanship,” said Greco. The two parties held a debate the two previous years and the current political climate does not help their relationship. “I wanted to be president so I could continue the good work we’ve been doing.”
The club often works for local campaigns and registers voters on campus. They’ve endorsed Alex Gutierrez for Tulare City Council’s District 2 seat, Kevin DeLeon for U.S. Senate, and Andrew Janz for California’s 22nd Congressional District. Club members often volunteer and canvass for Democratic campaigns across the South Valley.
Former President Kat Dodson now works for the Andrew Janz campaign as a South Valley Coordinator. “I wouldn’t have my job if I hadn’t been the President of Young Dems.”
Dodson, still a member of the club, hopes to see the club thrive under Greco’s leadership. To her, the most important objectives should be registering young voters for the midterm election and getting as many members of COS Young Dems to convention as possible.
“Every year, the California Democratic Party has a convention,” said Dodson. “We’ll be able to meet candidates, speak with elected officials, and learn how state party politics work.” COS Young Dems boasts 10 members as delegates for the state party.”
“It’s going to be a tight race for a lot of very important seats,” said Greco. It’s a sentiment echoed by much of the club.
Daniel Sepulveda, a first-time member of Young Dems, explained why he joined. “I wanted to join to help elect Democrats this November. I saw this as the best avenue to help do that while also being a student here at COS.”
At the end of every meeting, the club holds an open discussion where members talk about current events. The discussion this meeting was Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Opinions about Senator Booker’s leak of documents and Senator Harris’ grilling of the judge flew around the room.
The club isn’t all business though. Greco explained that the club is looking to hold some events of their own and participate in some of COS’ events. The next scheduled event for Young Dems is a Kevin DeLeon party: The U.S. Senate prospect is holding concurrent parties all over the state and the club voted to engage with this candidate.
Young Dems also tries to get involved in every COS event possible. During this meeting, they planned for the upcoming multicultural fair.
As the president adjourned the congregation, the members flooded out into the hall and there was a sense of determination. These members wanted to work hard to secure what they perceived as a better future. A takeaway from the meeting is that, especially with the 2018 midterms, the youth vote is going to be the most valuable vote regardless of party.