Jay Parker ’22
On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Trinity College Democrats hosted the annual College Democrats of Connecticut (CDCT) Convention in the Vernon Social Student Center. Students from the 12 member chapters of the CDCT – Trinity College, Wesleyan University, Connecticut College, Yale University, the University of Connecticut-Storrs, the University of Connecticut Law School, Southern Connecticut State University, Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Sacred Heart University, the University of New Haven, and Fairfield University – engaged in their civic duties by attending this conference. Tripod Opinions Editor and Trinity College Democrats President Alex Dahlem ’20, in conjunction with Wesleyan University’s Ron Meehan, planned this event over the course of two months, creating an itinerary of speakers and various activities to engage the participants.
Among the numerous speakers, newly elected State Representative for Middletown Quentin Phipps was the first to speak. As a Connecticut native, Phipps expressed his vision for his burgeoning career as a politician in his home state. Chief amongst his list of priorities was his desire to hold legislators accountable for their campaign promises. Charles Perosino, a sophomore from the University of Connecticut-Storrs, later expressed his agreement with Representative Phipps’ impassioned appeal for more accountability in government. Perosino added that he thinks it is up to his generation to enact change, knowing he cannot rely on previous generations to do so on their behalf.
Next on the schedule was the Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill. A life-long advocate of voter rights, especially for young voters, Secretary Merrill’s office provided all attendees with a copy of her resolution proposing a state constitutional amendment to permit early voting. Making her case as to why this is imperative for the future of Connecticut’s democracy, Secretary Merrill pointed out that 38 states and the District of Columbia have early voting for its constituents.
Before breaking off for lunch, the members of the College Democrats of Connecticut also held an election for the new CDCT executive board. Dahlem represented Trinity College as the only candidate for the upcoming election, running for the position of Vice President. The candidates each gave a speech in front of the members present on the reasons as to why they should serve on the executive board, with each member school getting two votes for each position.
This event was not just an opportunity for students from across Connecticut to meet their elected officials, it also provided an opportunity for them to increase their involvement in political organizations from across the state. Madison Knoop, a sophomore from Western Connecticut State University and the student coordinator for the advocacy group Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV), facilitated engagement with other students in an effort to spread the group’s mission to schools across the state.
“Politics isn’t just about the back and forth amongst parties” said Phipps, “Politics is about how we can improve our lives for the better and the actions we need to take in order to do so… [politics] is how we will build a more cohesive society.”