What campus groups have been doing to prepare for primaries

Alexandra Zhu/Staff

As Super Tuesday quickly approached, campus was alight with activity from political groups. Specifically, many groups run by UC Berkeley students themselves tabled, canvassed and attempted to mobilize students to participate in the primary elections March 3.

Many groups popped up on campus in support of specific candidates — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang, among others, were all backed by UC Berkeley students who campaigned on campus.

James Kennerly, co-chair of Young Democratic Socialists of America at Berkeley, or YDSA, and campus senior, said most of YDSA’s activity has involved tabling and canvassing on the UC Berkeley campus for the Sanders campaign.

Kennerly mentioned that the group has also organized students to go off campus and canvas in Berkeley, Hayward and Richmond and has been working with the East Bay branch of Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA. Recently, the group planned its own canvas with about 20 UC Berkeley students in West Oakland.

“Based on my experience organizing for Bernie on the Berkeley campus, I feel very hopeful about our chances of winning the California primary,” Kennerly said. “It seems like Bernie’s message really resonates with a lot of people at Berkeley.”

Kennerly also mentioned that the difference between DSA and the official Sanders campaign is DSA’s focus on not only winning the election, but also ensuring policy enactment afterward.

Shruthi Chockkalingam, president of Our Revolution at UC Berkeley, whose group also supports Sanders, mentioned in an email that Our Revolution was also engaged in canvassing efforts to involve students.

“Over the course of this past year we’ve talked to hundreds of students, a lot of whom are first-time voters, and given them important information about how to vote and gotten them excited about participating in the political process,” Chockkalingam said in the email.

Chockkalingam added that the group tried to involve students by hosting events like watch parties for debates and election results.

Marissa Wu, co-president and co-founder of Berkeley for Warren, said in an email that her group attempted to heighten its volunteer recruitment and voter outreach efforts significantly.

“We’ve been tabling daily on Sproul to talk to undecided voters and recruit volunteers for the campaign’s Get Out the Vote action,” Wu said in an email. “One of the most important ways to involve students in the primary process is to talk to them about the issues that matter to them and relate this election to their personal lives, which we’ve been doing through our tabling, phonebanks, dorm storms, and general meetings.”

Even campus groups who supported candidates that dropped out of the primary race continued to work.

Ken Hinh, president and co-founder of the UC Berkeley chapter of Not Left, Not Right, Forward, said in an email that the group continues to endorse and campaign for candidates running on the platform of Universal Basic Income. The group is unofficially known as the UC Berkeley Yang Gang.

“We still have weekly meetings that focus on spreading awareness for Universal Basic Income, Human-Centered Capitalism, and automation — platforms that Andrew mainly ran on,” Hinh said in the email.

Still other student political groups remained active without supporting a specific candidate in the primary election.

Douglas Koehler, president of the UC Berkeley chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, said in an email that the group is dedicated to bringing students together to discuss and debate issues around limiting government intervention in the lives of U.S. citizens and continues to conduct phone banking and canvassing despite its current lack of mobilization for one candidate.

Sarah Abdeshahian, president of Cal Berkeley Democrats, noted that the group did not endorse a specific candidate in the presidential primary and that it invited different campaigns to speak to students.

“We think it’s important for students to be well-informed about each candidate and to also get involved if they so choose, especially since we will not be organizing around a presidential candidate in the primary,” Abdeshahian said in an email.

Abdeshahian emphasized that the presidential race was not the only important one on the ballot, noting the group’s major focus on supporting Measures E, G and H and Proposition 13.

“Our mission is always to get students more involved in progressive causes,” Abdeshahian said in the email. “While our main focus shifts from semester to semester, our priority will always be to empower students to fight for progressive politics.”

Berkeley College Republicans did not respond for comment as of print time.

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected] .