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MSU Democrats travel to D.C. for retreat

February 27, 2015

After a Republican sweep in the 2014 midterm elections, MSU College Democrats are reevaluating some strategies to increase membership.

The political group attended the College Democrats of America Winter Retreat in Washington D.C. last week to discuss issues that directly affect college students.

MSU College Democrats President Brianna Shamsuddoha said the retreat helped other college students reflect on the past elections.

"If you are not at the table, you are on the menu — a lot of the last week was us making a sport for ourselves at the table,” Shamsuddoha said. “We were reflecting back on this past election cycle, what happened and what needs to happen in the future.”

Shamsuddoha said MSU College Democrats had eight representatives at the retreat. Central Michigan University, Grand Rapids Community College and Northern Michigan University’s College Democrats chapters also sent delegates to the retreat.

Although the U.S. Congress is on recess, the group was able to meet with staffers of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, and Rep. Sander Levin, D-MI.

“MSU flew on Wednesday so Thursday during the day we could meet with Sen. Stabenow's chief of staff and education policy staffers and … with Congressman Sander Levin's educational policy staffer,” Shamsuddoha said.

Some of the young democrats that attended the retreat represented a newly-formed committee that addresses issues of college affordability.

The committee was formed in November at the Michigan Federation of College Democrats Fall Retreat in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Michigan Federation of College Democrats Treasurer Rawley Van Fossen said. The committee also had the opportunity met with Michigan congressional staff.

“We as democrats strive to make college more affordable for students of all backgrounds and to confront the issue of student loan debt,” Van Fossen said. “Being in D.C. and having this new college affordability committee form, we wanted to set time with our delegation at service in the Senate and the House to meet with them and their staff to talk about this issue.

Shamsuddoha said the committee is also working with state legislators to tackle the issue of college affordability.

“The goal of this committee is to work on higher education issues such as affordability … lower tuition, increase higher education funding or student loan (access),” Shamsuddoha said. “This committee is working to kind of push all the college democrats together behind one issue.”

Another issue that the MSU College Democrats would tackle is diversity in the organization’s membership.

“We want to focus on membership and recruitment, mostly a more diverse membership,” Shamsuddoha said.

The trip was in part sponsored by ASMSU via reimbursement, Shamsuddoha said. 

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