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"Without a collective voices selling your ideas... [is] that much harder"
ERIC KOCIBA.. SENIOR AT EASTERN MICHIGAN U AND MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES STUDENT ASSOCIATION
Who Makes The Grade?
continued from previous page
Democratic agenda" -
President Adam Kreisel
Membership: 800 chapters. They
estimate 80,000 members.
Funding: Fund-raising events, pri-
vate individual donations, and
$50-per-chapter annual dues.
the College Democrats from the
A fter Lyndon Johnson banished
Democratic flock in 1967 (for
opposing the Vietnam War), the
CDs did very little for 20 years.
But they started reviving in the late
'80s, organizing for Al Gore's presi-
dential campaign. Although their peak
activity was in the 1992 elections, they
have stayed busy since then.
According to figures collected from
chapters, the CDs, as leaders of the
Vote for a Change coalitions on col-
lege campuses, registered more than
500,000 people to vote in 1992. They
claim 60,000 CDs worked on 1992
local, state and national campaigns.
And since the election, according to
their figures, they've generated more
than 20,000 phones calls and 3,500 let-
ters in support of Clinton's economic
package and national service initiative.
To be sure, sending in a "letter" of
support isn't like scratching out a
heartfelt missive to your senator -
these letters are actually tear-off post-
cards at the bottom of monthly legisla-
tive bulletins with pre-printed mes-
sages and signature blanks.
But they took a more forceful
approach in their Washington conven-
tion in June 1993, when they lobbied
more than 100 Congressional mem-
bers. President Adam Kreisel, a 22-
year-old senior at Trinity College in
Connecticut, says they targeted sena-
tors to move for a vote on the national
service bill, which was being filibus-
tered by certain Republicans.
Although the CDs' national staff
attend meetings twice a week with the
Democratic National Committee,
Kreisel says they get zero funding from
the DNC. (The DNC does provide
them with occasional lodging on trips
and helps them fund-raise.)
This year, they're gearing up for
local and statewide elections and sup-
porting Clinton's health care package.
What you'll be doing if you join:
Working on local campaigns.
Hosting speakers. Mailing pre-printed
letters from legislative bulletins to
members of Congress in support of
Clinton's health care plan.
Grade: B+ They're well-organized
and they haven't sat on their butts
since Clinton was elected.
For more information, call (202) 479-
5189. E-mail address: 73303.3036
United States Student
Focus: "Giving students the
means to receive higher educa-
tion" - Vice President Stephanie
Membership: 350 campuses.
Funding: Dues from member
schools, which range from $400
to $1,000 per year. Schools
belonging to USSA through
direct referenda must pay 50
cents per student per semester.
They also take foundation grants
and individual donations.
Its like your student government -
but get this... they actually do
something. USSA is a student lob-
bying group that claims to repre-
sent 3.5 million students. Schools are
members through their student gov-
ernments or state student associations.
Working with members and staff of
the House and Senate Appropriations
committees, they've lobbied on these
" last spring, to restore funding for
state student incentive grants, which
were in danger of losing $72.4 million
to help fund a job creation bill.
* since the early '80s, for direct lend-
ing, a policy in which the government
administers student loans. Direct lend-
ing passed Congress last July, and
USSA representatives are the only
voices for students on the regulations
committee for direct lending.
* last spring and summer, for
Clinton's national community service
initiative. They specifically pushed for
an option to serve part-time, options
for students with disabilities and for
health care and child care provisions
for the past three years, for the
Violence Against Women Act, which
contains an amendment on campus
safety. (They've organized nationwide
phone banks to support the measure.)
They're also pushing for the biparti-
san Jeffords Amendment, which would
increase the percentage of the federal
budget spent on education (now at 2
percent) by 1 percent every year until
it reaches 10 percent of the federal
budget. To keep members abreast of
national legislation, USSA provides a
legislative hotline at (202) 347-7273.
So when it comes to issues like fed-
eral financial aid for students, USSA
represents its members pretty well.
But, since they're supported by student
fees, they've been criticized for taking
sides on divisive issues - for instance,
they advocate access to abortion (they
support the Freedom of Choice Act)
and they have condemned the ROTC's
scholarship ban against gay students.
Some schools are "referenda
schools," at which students must vote
for their schools to join. But student
governments at Iowa State U. and
James Madison U. in Virginia, which
are not referenda schools, have voted
to withdraw membership in USSA
because of their controversial stances.
"Any organization that [Iowa State]
is going to be a member of should not
be taking a stand on things like abor-
tion," says Denis Klein, governing stu-
dent body president at Iowa State.
"Those issues are very personal, and to
come out and say that Iowa State sup-
ports either side would be a mistake."
President Tchiyuka Cornelius, a 25-
year-old graduate of the U. of Buffalo
in New York, says that these issues are
not USSA's main focus. And, he notes,
"Within every organization you never
have 100 percent agreement on 100
percent of the items."
Although USSA makes an active
effort to represent women, gays and
lesbians, and racial and ethnic minori-
ties, they were criticized for holding
closed caucuses for these groups at past
Vice President Stephanie Arellano, a
'25-year-old graduate of Eastern
Michigan U., defends the closed cau-
cuses, saying, "Students wrote this leg-
islation within USSA and voted to put
it in our constitution [to allow closed
What you'll be doing if your school
joins USSA: Unless you're in student
government, you'll just be paying stu-
dent fee money. But you'll be repre-
sented on Capitol Hill.
Grade: B USSA is a powerful voice
for student aid funding in Washington,
and they're a good information
resource for student governments. But
they lose points for supporting divisive
issues with student fees.
For more information, call (202) 347-
USSA. E-mailaddress: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Rheingold, The Michigan
Daily, U. of Michigan, contributed to this
United We Stand America
Focus: "Deficit reduction and
campaign finance reform" -
National Collegiate Director Lee
Membership: 140 campus chapters,
87 of which are university-recog-
nized. UWSA won't disclose the
number of student members or
national members, but national
membership is generally estimat-
ed at 2 million.
Funding: College chapters must
fund themselves, as U SA
requires no member dues from
college chapters. Until
September 1993, founder and
Chairman Ross Perot funded
UWSA's operating costs, but
since then, operating costs have
been funded by $15 member
dues. Perot pays some advertis-
~eyve been, called "Ross Perots
new army" by Newsweek and
'Perotland" by Time, but mem-
bers of United We Stand
America say the only campaign they're
running is for the country.
"[Perot] does afford us a lot of
recognition," says National Collegiate
Director Lee Pepper, a 24-year-old
graduate of the U. of Tennessee. "But
Ross Perot is just one aspect of our
Although members insist that
UWSA is not a third party, they're
organizing conventions in each state to
write constitutions, and UWSA offi-
cials and Perot say the group will be a
"swing vote" in this year's
Congressional and Senate elections.
But how do student members fit into
the picture? Since student "members"
don't have to pay the $15 membership
fee that national members do, they
don't necessarily get voting privileges
or representation in some statewide
conventions. (Some states do let cam-
pus representatives vote at conven-
tions, and in Ohio a student sits on the
state board of directors.)
"We're trying to expand our num-
bers," Pepper says. "If you go to a col-
lege campus and charge money, you'll
exclude a lot of people."
Campus chapters should "inform
students on critical issues" and "give
students a voice in the national arena,"
according to the student mission state-
ment. Does this translate into action?
Take a look at what they've done:
* U. of Southern California: last
spring, hosted a visit from Perot.
(Chairman Mike Church, a senior,
estimates attendance at 3,500.)
* U. of North Carolina: last fall, held
"wave campaigns" in which members
held signs in the community urging
cutting of the deficit.
* Miami U. of Ohio: last fall, orga-
nized campus debates about NAFTA.
So, the student chapters do seem to
be educating students on certain issues.
But the jury's still out on whether they
give students a national voice. If
they're serious about this, why aren't
student chapters required to pay dues
and given full voting privileges?
They'd probably fork over the 15
bucks for adequate representation.
What you'll be doing if you join:
Hosting debates on health care.
Organizing campus visits from Perot.
Grade: The national organization
could make a mean swing vote in 1994
- let's just hope that students are
invited along for the ride.
For more information, call 1-800-333-
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