Groups celebrate activist’s birthday

Hamburgers and Polish sausages sizzled on the grill at East River Flats Park on Friday as politically conservative students held an end-of-the-year barbecue.

Members from Students for Family Values, Campus Republicans and Students for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reflected on the year’s accomplishments and planned Sunday’s ninth annual El Dos de Mayo celebration.

Conservative student organizations get together for the party – a bar-hopping bonanza around town – to socialize and celebrate the birthday of University activist Orlando Ochoada.

Ochoada, who turned 34 years old Sunday, has been a familiar face to campus conservatives for more than a decade and a half.

“He is the grandfather of student conservatism on campus,” said Tom Gromacki, a former University student involved with Students for a Conservative Voice.

Since 1996, May 2 has been an unofficial holiday for campus conservative clubs.

“The imperialist dog should have his day,” Students for Family Values president Marty Andrade said.

On Sunday afternoon, Ochoada and his friends planned to begin their celebration at Stadium Village eateries and end the party at Pizza Shack on Lake Street.

The event is an opportunity for campus conservative organizations to celebrate the year and conservatism in general, Ochoada said.

“It is an opportunity to pass institutional memory to the next generation,” he said.

Ochoada said he has taken classes on and off since 1988. Though not enrolled this semester, he is still involved in Students for Family Values, which he co-founded, along with other campus political groups.

“Conservative activism leads to not graduating,” he said. “It can be distracting.”

Ochoada said he also ran for state representative in House district 62A on the Republican Party ticket in 1998, 2000 and 2002, losing each time.

When he came to the University 16 years ago, Ochoada’s academic focus was religious studies, but he said he eventually switched to political science. His academic progress has involved taking sporadic credits and taking extended periods of time off to pursue government seats.

Ochoada works for Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow – another University group present at Sunday’s festivities – and it acts as his only source of income, which he said we will soon have to supplement.

Finishing school is not really a priority for him, but Ochoada said it is something he thinks about.

“It’s like going on vacation, and you think you’ve left the gas on,” he said. “It’s a nagging feeling.”