These students bleed blue, but not just for their university: the BYU College Democrats club is holding strong in a sea of Republicans.
The club is currently the largest it has been in years and has about 350 subscribers to its email list. The club meets weekly to discuss current issues, invites guest speakers and seems like any other political advocacy group — with one exception. Its members are mostly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At a recent meeting, scriptures were quoted, testimonies were shared and those who opposed each other during the meeting chatted like the best of friends once the meeting was over.
“I think that what most people don’t realize is that most of us are Democrats because of our faith, not in spite of it,” said Ian Hansen, a junior political science major from Duluth, Minn. “My political views, the majority of them, are derived directly from my faith. I’m as mainstream Mormon as anybody. I served a mission, I worked at the MTC, I’ve done the whole Mormon thing. I’m a Mormon.”
Despite the club’s growing strength, the members still represent a small portion of the student population at BYU.
So what is it like to be a Democrat in a dominantly Republican university?
“It’s really fun,” said Hansen, “You’re kind of forced to really know what you’re talking about because you’re challenged. I’m more educated and more informed because I go to BYU and I’m a Democrat.”
At least half of the group is involved in some sort of campaigning activity, but the club’s Co-President Ben Ader, a political science major from Knoxville, Tenn., said the main goal of the club is to educate.
“To me, that is the principal role of both being at BYU, being in this club and being in any other student organization,” Ader said. “From my understanding of learning, and our doctrinal mandate to study, things become easier, more understood and we could solve almost all world problems if we had a greater knowledge of all things.”
Students of all political parties who are willing to have a civil discussion are encouraged to attend.
“If you’re not curious, get curious,” Hansen said. “If you are curious, ask us.”
Johnathan Gatto, a junior from Pa., studying political science came from Utah Valley University to attend the discussion.
“I think that the Church has told a lot of Latter-day Saints, even in stake conference, that they should go and get involved in different parties,” Gatto said.
The club meets Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in room 270 of the Kimball Tower. For more information, visit byudemocrats.org.