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Calvin College Democrats give students experience in productive political dialogue

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Calvin College Democrats give students experience in productive political dialogue

Members of the Calvin Democrats

Members of the Calvin Democrats

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu

Members of the Calvin Democrats

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu

Members of the Calvin Democrats

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Since its founding immediately following the election of President Donald Trump, the Calvin College Democrats have established themselves as a student organization and created their own voice at Calvin.

“Calvin Democrats was started around my sophomore year. We started it with some friends of mine who are now studying in D.C., actually,” said senior Jesse Brink, president of the club. “We started it because Donald Trump was elected and there was a Calvin Republicans club but no Democrats club, so we kind of wanted to change that and raise the voice of democrats and liberals here at Calvin.”

The club has two main goals, Brink said: fostering productive dialogue across campus — specifically with the Calvin Republicans — and working as advocates for change, “for the Democratic Party even,” Brink said.

Lorrayya Williams, current vice president of the organization, agreed with this statement made by Brink. Williams is a current sophomore at Calvin.

“I joined [Calvin College Democrats] because I was always interested in politics and especially being involved in politics,” said Williams. “So I thought that it would be something good to do.”

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu
Jesse Brink, along with another student and two professors in one of the debates the club puts on with other organizations.

Events

The Calvin College Democrats have been able to host events and speakers despite being a fairly new student organization.

One major event that they hosted, along with the Calvin Republicans and the political science department, was the Great Debate Series in 2017. The series featured a student Republican and student Democrat along with one professor on either side.

“That was a very good way for us to talk about issues rationally. We had superb turnout for that. We had about 60 or 70 people at most of those,” said Brink. “That, I think, is a great example of the relationship we have with [the Calvin Republicans]. We can be productive while still strong in our ideologies and stances.”

Brink emphasized the significance of events like that and said that the Calvin College Democrats and Calvin Republicans have a strong relationship. He commented that Calvin College Democrats are also “very respectful of other political opinions and ideologies, which is unusual for democratic clubs at Michigan colleges.”

One thing that Lorrayya said she especially enjoyed about the Calvin College Democrats is the guest speakers. She liked “hearing their perspectives and getting to talk with local Democratic politicians.”

An example would be former state representative and current state senator Winnie Brinks, who came to speak while she was running for office last fall.

Leadership

Photo courtesy of Calvin.edu
The political science department hallway in Devos

Library employee and club President Jessie Brink

As president of the club, Brink leads a busy life, as many Calvin seniors do. Brink studies both political science and history. In addition to serving as president of the Calvin College Democrats, Brink is also involved with other extracurriculars, such as intramural volleyball.

He is also a student worker at the Hekman Library, which, he commented, takes up a lot of his time. In the spare time he does have, he enjoys traveling, hiking and watching Netflix — he said his favorite movie is “Forrest Gump.”

Student Senate member Lorrayya Williams

Also a double major, Williams is a current sophomore at Calvin. She is studying biochemistry and computer science. Williams is also involved with a couple of other extracurriculars at Calvin; she’s a member of student senate, and also enjoys participating in Dance Guild throughout the school year.

Besides debating politics, she also has a lot of other hobbies, including dancing, crocheting, reading and writing.

Open Positions

Recently the club had two of their leaders leave to study in Washington D.C., so they have two open leadership positions.

Williams commented that the positions are generally filled based on interest and ability, rather than a particular process.

Brink added that, as a young club, they are still trying to navigate how to determine how leadership positions are filled and chosen.

“The Calvin Democrats is an important organization to be involved with, especially if you want to get experience with planning things and just being a part of leadership,” said Williams. “It’s also important because it can be a way of learning more about yourself and your own political beliefs and how to have productive political dialogue.”

Anyone interested in becoming involved in leadership for the Calvin College Democrats can contact Brink or Williams via email (jab98 and llw5 respectively) or through the organization’s Facebook page.

Check out our feature article on the Calvin College Republicans.

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