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Utah Valley is predominantly conservative in regard to politics, and, consequently, so is BYU. People rarely associate BYU students with the Democratic Party. But not only are there politically active Democrats at BYU, they hold weekly meetings and stay active in the community.
Many Mormons have embraced the Republican Party. Mitt Romney, who ran for president in 2012 as a Republican, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But there are also many Mormon Democrats.
Steven Schone, a freshman from Boise, Idaho, is a member of the College Democrats. Schone said there are many beliefs of the party that align with the teachings of the Church. The Democratic platform on tolerance for others, assistance to the poor and helping the oppressed coincides with Church doctrine.
Schone said just because people identify themselves as Democrat does not mean they need to accept all the party positions.
The experience of being a Democrat at BYU brings mixed emotions. Jan Bergeson, a junior studying electrical engineering, from Orem, said sometimes students fail to understand how they can use their religion to affiliate with either party.
“I’ve had a much more positive experience,” said Abby Clayton, a junior from Las Vegas. Clayton is a proud member of the College Democrats. “The more open that I have been with people about my political views, the more open and accepting others have been with me. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the discussions I’ve had with people who don’t consider themselves Democrats. I’ve never had ‘persecution’ for my beliefs.”
Cori Pratt, a junior from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and a member of the College Democrats, said because of the conservative culture at BYU, Democrats sometimes hesitate to share their true feelings in class discussions.
The College Democrats are more diverse in their opinions than one might assume. The political spectrum of the club includes Socialists, moderate Democrats and former Republicans.
The College Democrats stick together despite their political differences. Democrats at BYU are generally well educated about political issues because they stand as a minority.
“It’s my personal opinion that BYU breeds some of the most educated and well-equipped liberal members of society,” said Tamison Clement, a sophomore from Austin, Texas, studying interdisciplinary humanities. “Because we are a minority here among a lot of conservatives who are well educated, we have to be educated and diplomatic.”
The College Democrats are involved both on and off campus. They hold weekly meetings, volunteer for campaigns and create discussions on social media. They make phone calls and knock on doors, advocating for political candidates. Democratic leaders occasionally visit campus to speak to the club.
But not all of their activities are political. The club also focuses on service and helping the community, volunteering at shelters and soup kitchens.
It may be hard to look past political stereotypes due to the partisan nature of today’s politics. Those who would like to learn more about what the College Democrats have to offer are welcome to attend the Tuesday meetings at 7 p.m. in Room 270 SWKT.
McKade Clements, a junior from Cedar City, Utah, studying information technology, said with excitement, “Come to the club and find out!”