Club ‘Berning’ the campaign trail

Just days away from the Nov. 3 Election Day, a new club on campus is encouraging students to support current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, in his campaign for presidency.

Launched on Oct. 4, the Bernie Sanders Club is striving to teach JJC students, who are supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, how to organize.

One of the main purposes of the club is to keep people politically informed, share their experiences, and find common values. By holding short training sessions, students will be taught how to efficiently organize and advocate for policies they believe in.

The club will promote policies that Sanders is promoting such as the Green New Deal and universal healthcare. The Sanders Club takes no official positions on issues, but instead dedicates their meetings to dissecting Sanders’ platform. 

Two of the main issues discussed are LGBTQ+ rights and workers’ rights. Another issue that will be discussed is foreign policy, although domestic policy will be the main focus.

Leader and founder of the club, Mike Reda, has experience working in political campaigns in Illinois. He worked for Daniel Biss’ 2018 gubernatorial campaign, and helped get Andre Vasquez elected to the Chicago City Council, defeating a 36-year incumbent.

As part of the club’s main goal of informing students, the club is also visiting other campuses to raise awareness. Members will be working to raise awareness of the Sanders campaign weekly, and also try to host voter registrations once a month.

In order to raise awareness of their cause, the club has put together canvassing dates for the JJC main campus, and is using a smartphone app produced and supported by the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Using the Bern app they can search the names of students, and check whether or not the student is registered to vote. Members of the club, also using the Bern app, can log the student’s opinion of Sanders as well.

The Bern app can also be used to gather basic contact details for Sanders’ political campaign to contact the student with politically based information concerning the status of the campaign.

Some parts of the first Students for Bernie Sanders club meeting consisted of reviewing videos on strategies for speaking to others about politics in a productive, non-confrontational manner during canvassing.

It was emphasized that arguing vehemently does no good for either side, and sharing stories as to why the one advocating for the Sanders campaign is more effective.

Canvassing dates were held Oct. 18, 23, 25, 28. Dates for November have not yet been established. These canvas dates had club members roaming the college to log information about the general public opinion of Sanders on the main JJC campus.

Although the club is named after Sanders and is dedicated to his campaign, the club is not just about him. Reda says that even after the election, the club will remain intact to promote grassroots support for politicians. Even if Sanders is not elected, the club will continue to promote accountability for politicians and those in power.

Students can learn more about how to get involved by emailing the club at mreda61@stu.jjc.edu. Meetings are held bi-weekly on Tuesdays at 4-6 p.m. in room C-2007.