Vermont College Democrats hold first ever statewide convention

The College Democrats of Vermont held their first ever statewide convention at UVM April 28 in an effort to engage students in political activism.  

Tim Ashe, president of the Vermont Senate, gave opening remarks. He was followed by three breakout sessions, a women in politics panel and a keynote speech by Christine Hallquist, former democratic candidate for VT governor.  

The breakout sessions included “Involvement of Youth Within Local Campaigns,” “The Use of Media in Politics” and “How to be an Effective Activist Without Burning Out.”

The College Democrats of Vermont has chapters from UVM, Champlain College and Middlebury College, said first-year Hannah King, communications director for the College Democrats of Vermont.

Despite forming in 2018, the College Democrats of Vermont has seen a recent boom in interest, as students want to see themselves better represented in government, said junior Tali Friedman, a presenter at the convention.

“You know the generation that’s governing a lot of our politics is much older than us and doesn’t necessarily match our demographics. It doesn’t necessarily stand for the same values that we do,” Friedman said.

Having college students more involved not only holds politicians accountable, but also makes students’ demands and needs clear, Friedman said.

The convention came four months after the creation of the College Democrats of Vermont, according to their Facebook page.

This convention made local and statewide politicians accessible to students, Friedman said.

“To be able to bring those leaders to the students, and more importantly, for students to feel like they’re an active role in the system that governs them,” Friedman said. “It is really important, and that’s kind of the point.”

During Ashe’s opening remarks, he discussed the importance of having conventions similar to this convention, as it gets students involved.  

Ashe said that despite students’ complaints about college tuition prices, social justice and climate change, he has never received a single phone call concerning these issues.

In her keynote speech, Hallquist emphasized the importance of being actively engaged in order to make social change, as she encouraged not only voting, but to take to the street in order.

“I do believe we humans are capable of anything if we put our heads together,” Hallquist said. “Do everything you can to protect the future.”

Junior Jessica Cremin attended the convention because she saw it as a learning opportunity, she said.

“I thought it would be a really great experience,” Cremin said. “There were some awesome speakers, and the breakout sessions sounded like they had really great topics.”

At the convention, elections were held for the executive board. Sophomore Aidan Doherty was elected as executive director, King as deputy director and junior Grace Viscito as secretary. All were UVM students who ran unopposed.