Tufts groups form to back Brown, Warren
Both groups engage political activism across campus
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 07:04
Though elections to the Senate will not take place until November, campaigning has long been underway. With this in mind, a number of Tufts groups are getting involved with campaigns and debates. More educational and collaborative than competitive, these groups are primarily interested in raising political awareness.
Still, the candidates’ fight is on. On one side are those aligned with Sen. Scott Brown (R−Mass.), who was elected to the Senate in 2010 after the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. Tufts for Scott Brown — the brainchild of Tufts Republicans club leaders Brian Yi and Sinclair Stafford — aims to raise political awareness and attract people who would not usually align themselves with the Republican Party, in addition to campaigning directly for the senator.
“We thought that having a separate group from [Tufts] Republicans, Tufts for Scott Brown, would really attract people of all sorts of colors,” Yi said.
Tufts for Scott Brown sees itself as a platform for conversation both among members and with students of opposing views. Organized debate, while helping promote the group’s views, also works to remove the stigma faced by Tufts Republicans as a minority on campus.
“Tufts Republicans aren’t scary and aren’t crazy,” Stafford said. “We’re normal people. We just happen to have different views.”
Stafford added that while people may identify as conservative, they do not necessarily have conservative views on every issue from social policies to foreign affairs.
To raise support for the campaign, the group has been collaborating with a variety of campus organizations whose interests align with Brown’s, such as Tufts Friends of Israel. In addition, Brown (LA ’81) was a member of Zeta Psi at Tufts, and his former fraternity has been active in fundraising efforts. Yi and Stafford have also spoken with the youth coordinator of the campaign, Ross Hemminger, about the volunteer opportunities available to students such as internships, phone banking and weekly college nights at the campaign’s headquarters in Boston.
In addition to agreeing with Brown’s views, Stafford and Yi were impressed by the senator’s dedication to his causes, regardless of the standard Republican opinion.
“He just seems very pragmatic — that’s the thing that appealed to me the most about him. He’s not an ideologue,” Stafford said. “On most issues that I know about, I agree with Scott Brown. It seems logical for me to support him.”
Tufts for Scott Brown has already held successful, discussion−based meetings. According to Yi, a two−on−two debate with representatives of the Elizabeth Warren group on campus is in the works for the near future.
Elizabeth Warren of the Democratic Party will be running against Brown this fall. A Harvard law professor and author of several books, Warren has won followers with her support of women’s health issues and intelligent economic policy.
In addition to participating in Tufts Students for Elizabeth Warren, sophomore Jennifer Wang is looking forward to the opportunity to intern for Warren this summer, even if her duties are not particularly glamorous.
“As an intern I’m anticipating [doing] a lot of phone−banking, data compilation and canvassing,” Wang, a political science major, said.
Although Wang was disappointed by Martha Coakley’s defeat in the last election, she has a good idea of what Warren can do better in the future.
“[Coakley’s campaign] ultimately proved what a lazy campaign accomplishes,” Wang said.
Though she has no plans of running for office herself, Wang hopes that her internship will help to further her political career. Wang was an intern for the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL), Pro−Choice Massachusetts and Planned Parenthood while in high school, in addition to founding and serving as president of her school’s feminist alliance. She credits her politically minded sister for her youth activism.
Whatever their political affiliation, Wang urges students to get involved.
“It’s extremely important for students to be politically aware,” she said. “You should really be aware of how people in structures of power are influencing you and shaping your life and the way you live it.”
She added that learning about personal issues that have become political in nature is a good way for students to start shaping their views and becoming politically active, adding that college is an ideal place to start learning about controversial issues because of the culture of conversation and open−mindedness.
Like Stafford and Yi, Wang agrees that Brown’s politics are relatively moderate, which saves him from alienation in a mostly blue state like Massachusetts. She also points out that Northeastern conservatives are hardly as extreme as those of the South or Midwest. Still, Brown’s politics do not always perfectly align with hers.
“I was never really displeased by Senator Brown’s voting pattern up until his voting on the Blunt Amendment,” Wang said, referring to the proposed amendment to allow any employer or insurance company the opportunity to refuse health care coverage on a moral or religious objection, which was ultimately shot down by a Senate majority.
Wang understands why Brown was elected — she believes it was partially due to backlash against Obama — but thinks Warren has the capacity to attract a wide variety of groups.
“As a supporter and someone who will be working on her campaign, I find Warren universally appealing to many different types of [voters],” she said.