Members of Georgetown University College Democrats elected a new executive board for the spring semester last week, producing a team that plans to work toward increasing diversity within the club.
Maria Cornell (SFS ’20) is set to replace Larry Huang (COL ’19) when his term as chair ends Dec. 31. Both Cornell and Huang said they are proud of what the club accomplished this semester and that they are looking forward to seeing what the new board achieves.
“There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of ways to get involved,” Cornell said. “I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with.”
Cornell also hopes to do away with the application to the club and implement an interest form to create a more welcoming environment for prospective members.
“I hope to affirm the reputation that the Dems are a very accepting group on campus and bring in new voices,” Cornell said.
Cornell also plans to build coalitions with other on-campus groups to expand the goals of the club and to work with off-campus groups through canvassing, lobbying and partnering with College Democrats chapters at other Washington, D.C. schools.
Other newly elected members of the board include Anusha Agarwal (COL ’21) as the director of speakers; Rebecca Hollister (COL ’21) as the director of campaigning and off-campus affairs; Jenny Xu (COL ’21) as the vice chair and director of advocacy; Logan Arkema (COL ’20) as the membership director; Alvaro Carrillo-Sanchez (COL ’21) as the director of alumni and advancement; Jake Galant (COL ’20) as director of communications and Mark Massa (SFS ’20) as the treasurer.
In addition to making improvements within the club, the new board members said they would work to support Democrats on the national level, especially in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
“Campaigning within GUCD is particularly important to me because, while protests are a wonderful way to express opinions, having the right people in the legislature will eliminate panic and protests over bad policy,” Hollister said. “That is why it’s so important to not only vote, but to work to support candidates that will be representing students like us in the national arena.”
Huang said that he is excited to see what Cornell does in her new position as chair.
“Everyone who meets Maria always wants to spend more time with her because she is the best human being ever,” Huang said. “I spent 20 hours on this a week — it was my life, and it takes a special human being to keep me sane in all of that, and that was her. She will be great.”
The all-underclassmen, majority female board is representative of the general membership of the club. GUCD has benefitted from a surge in membership, with over 1,500 members on its email listserv, according to Cornell. Sixty-eight people applied to be involved in the leadership departments in spring 2017, and 201 applied in the fall.
Arkema also said he plans on working to diversify the club to reflect the nature of the Democratic Party.
“Membership of College Dems is not reflective of the people who vote for Democrats, it’s not reflective of Georgetown as a whole and it’s not reflective of the issues we need to be advocating for,” Arkema said.
The club struggles to keep its members through the spring and hopes to add more spring events and initiatives to raise retention.
Cornell and Jake Lyons (COL ’20), the recently elected president of the Georgetown University College Republicans, said they will work to increase collaboration between the two groups.
“At the end of the day, we all want to find solutions to the issues our country faces,” Lyons said. “By listening to different ideas instead of shutting them down, we’re going to find common ground.”
Cornell said she wants to “foster a culture and conversation of respect between the two organizations and move forward together, and as a country more generally.”
“As young people, Democrats really rely on us to go out and canvass, to call our representatives, to go out and volunteer and make sure our platforms are being heard throughout our community,” Cornell said. “We need to use our position as the future of the Democratic Party to start seeing the changes that we want to see in the current Democratic Party.”