By Sarah Brill Co-President of the YU Democrats
When I joined the board of the YU College Democrats, I never thought I would end up where I am now. I started as the Vice President of Environmental Issues, but the term was short-lived. Mere months after I got the position, the president of the club at the time, Molly Meisels (SCW ‘20), approached myself and Courtney Marks (SCW ‘20) and asked us if we would take on the mantle of being co-presidents for the YU Democrats. Without hesitation, from either of us, we agreed; a few weeks later, our club got shut down.
Definitely a way to start the presidency. During the Fall of 2019, myself, Courtney, and Molly were all fighting to get the club reinstated.
So there we were, myself and Courtney, new presidents, fighting for a club we had never got the chance to lead. Long situation short, we got up running, and the ball was rolling; we planned events, voter registration, even attended the YUPAC trip to Washington, D.C. with our board members.
While that year was difficult for Courtney and I, the worst was yet to come as the pandemic swept across the country and all events were moved online. A blessing and a curse for the YU College Democrats, because while we received many more speakers than we could have asked for, we also received online hate, spamming, and Zoombombing from fellow students. With the world masked behind their screens, we continued to push through and our board members showed us that anything was possible, even in the worst scenarios.
The start of the 2020-2021 school year was extremely intense. The election was on the horizon, and tensions were heating between the Democrats and the Republicans around the world. While we, as a club, welcomed and promoted thoughtful discussion to all of our members, Democrats and Republicans alike, we still felt the backlash of the students, not only from YU, but from other universities as well. The aggression rose so high to the point where people from other institutions, including from YU, were spamming our WhatsApp group chat with hate speech, even going as far as to spam call members. Taking action, Courtney and I closed the group chat and made our invite link exclusive only to those who reached out to us personally, thereby shutting off many prospective members from joining the conversation. This was not only detrimental to the expansion of our club, but it restricted new students from expressing their opinions, ones that might not be accepted anywhere else other than in our group chat.
Though it started rough, the school year was filled with incredible speakers from Indigenous activist Sarah Addam Cornell to, most recently, Pete Coppolillo, an environmentalist who is using dogs to save the planet. Throughout this semester, we learned from a variety of activists, as well as doing our own part to be activists on campus not only for the Jewish community but for the Black, Latinx, and Asian communities as well. It is no news that this year has been an absolute disaster, to put it lightly, for minority groups, and through our campaigns on campus and on social media, we hope we brought light and awareness to certain issues and the struggles that surround our community, and the ones listed.
Our social media has served as our communication to the world this semester. Starting with only 120 followers on our account this year, we have now reached over 300 as we continue to grow and spread, not only to YU, but to other universities as well. We were lucky enough to be approached by many people, young and old, with their thoughts on political matters, democratic and not, and how they themselves are changing the world.
This year has been truly eye-opening. I have seen the worst in people, and the best, but if this pandemic taught us anything, and if my presidency taught me anything, it is that people will come through when you need them the most no matter their religion, gender, sexual orientation, or race.
While I have learned and, hopefully, accomplished much through these last 2 years as president, I look forward to the future of the YU Democrats and have very high hopes for the board members who are not graduating and know they will do amazing things for this club.
So, thank you YU Democrats. It has been an honor being your president.