Getting people involved, getting people informed and bringing people together are just a few steps the College Democrats of Utah (CDU) are taking.
They want to bring political issues and discussions to campuses and communities across the state.
“Our mission is to engage college-age voters and just college-age people in general to take an active part in the political process,” said Mark Bearnson, the CDU vice chair.
According to Bearnson, the CDU is a statewide student organization that hosts monthly events that focus on informing students and communities about controversial topics.
This month’s event is a discussion on undocumented immigration, specifically in the local area, according to Anne Olsen, the president of the Weber State University Democrats and secretary for the CDU.
According to Olsen, the CDU board chose the topic of immigration because they thought it was a national and statewide issue that needed to be addressed at the local level.
“We thought it would be a really good time to discuss immigration and how it affects different lives,” Olsen said. “We thought it was a topic that a lot of people could have an opinion about.”
Called “Living in the Shadows: Undocumented Immigration in Utah,” the discussion will take place at the Salt Lake Community College Thursday at 3 p.m.
With a panel of guest speakers from education, community advocacy and government, the discussion will focus on the cultural, legal and political issues facing Utah’s undocumented immigrant population, according to Bearnson.
“For the most part, we are going to try and cover as much ground as we can,” he said. “I think tackling the legal aspect and the political aspect is only part of it, so we’re hoping to cover the cultural and societal aspects as well.”
In charge of coordinating and setting up the events, Bearnson said the overall purpose for these events is to bring in a range of different perspectives on these issues.
“We could stack the deck with nothing but Democrats, but that wouldn’t be fair,” he said. “I think it really comes down to giving people enough information, so that they can make up their own minds.”
CDU chair and WSU sophomore Marcus Stevenson said the goal for this week’s event is to get people informed about the controversy that surrounds immigration.
Despite being a democratic and politically-driven organization, the CDU’s main focus is getting people civically engaged in their communities, according to Stevenson.
“We just want to bring the facts to people across the state,” he said. “We want people to hear us and then make their own conclusions. We’re not trying to push them to lean one way or the other.”
Along with hosting a monthly event, the CDU also focuses on empowering students and communities through civic engagement, advocacy training and various workshops, according to Bearnson.
Olsen said that her favorite part about the CDU is that she gets to make an impact locally in politics. She also likes being surrounded by like-minded people.
“I love being around other people my age who are also passionate about the same things that I am. Unfortunately, a lot of college students are apathetic when it comes to politics,” she said.
Gathering for a weekly meeting to discuss their plans for the year, the seven CDU chapters from different universities are working on expanding their presence across the state, said Stevenson.
However, the main goal is to get young people more involved with politics.
“Like it or not, politics is everything. From a local level to a national level, it’s always going to be part of your life,” said Stevenson. “So I think everybody should get engaged and have a say.”