U-DFLelects new leaders

The new group of leaders hopes to reach out to freshmen and increase donations.

Charley Bruce

The University DFL elected new leaders Monday evening, filling the spot left open by the outgoing president.

Noah Seligman, a former Daily sports reporter, stepped down as president and Vice President Shannon Mitchell assumed the position. Mike Walters was elected vice president and David Liebow remained treasurer.

Seligman relinquished his duties to intern for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., through a program offered by George Washington University. He will be working on media relations while attending two classes at the university in Washington, D.C.

Seligman, a political science and journalism senior, ran for U-DFL president in spring 2006 after coordinating Minnesota Student Association President Max Page and Vice President Monica Heth’s campaign.

He said the U-DFL membership expected him to leave after the first semester to pursue the “political boot camp,” but he’s confident in Mitchell’s ability to run the group.

“She’s very smart and very organized,” Seligman said.

Mitchell, a political science senior, said she started her Democratic involvement in high school, then got on the Grant County DFL board and became a delegate to the DFL state convention in 2004. She joined U-DFL her sophomore year.

She said her semester as vice president was filled with election year duties like voter mobilization, getting candidates on campus and getting DFL candidates elected.

“It was a lot of visibility stuff,” Mitchell said.

She plans on devoting more time next semester to community outreach.

There will also be more time for fundraising, Mitchell said, with funds feeding volunteers and sponsoring political debates.

“Whether (students) agree with the DFL or not, it’s a good opportunity to have people think about their views,” she said.

Vice President-elect Mike Walters said it was hard for him to find out when and where the U-DFL met when he joined three years ago. As such, he wants to make it easier for first-year students to find the group.

He said he wants to get the students and U-DFL more involved with lobby day and legislating.

Walters, a history senior, said he’d like to ask for contributions for the group from University professors who gave money to DFL candidates.

The power of campus political groups

Page, a former U-DFL president, said campus political groups might endorse candidates, devote resources to election campaigns and, if they have at least 50 members, get automatic representation in MSA.

The U-DFL endorsed Page and Heth during their run for MSA president and vice president. It has a representative to the MSA, and four committee chairs are former members of U-DFL.

Page said student political groups can be a launching point for students to get involved in MSA.

He said MSA has the power of being the voice of students on campus. The assembly also has influence with University administration and vice provosts.

“It’s an opportunity to talk to officials that, normally, students wouldn’t be able to talk to,” Page said.

Liz Hruska, a career services coordinator in the University’s Career and Community Learning Center, said joining a student group is a good way for them to meet people with similar interests and meet professionals.

Involvement in a student group is also a way students can develop skills and real experiences to add to a résumé or mention in an interview, she said.

“Students stand out because it’s something above and beyond your education and your ‘typical’ college job,” Hruska said.

She said if a student is in a group related to their profession it shows they are more interested and motivated in the field than uninvolved students.

The U-DFL represents an important and growing voting population, according to Andrew O’Leary, executive director of the Minnesota DFL.

College political organizations inform students about issues affecting them and educate students about voting, he said.

O’Leary said the size of the University campus makes the U-DFL an important part of his organization.

U-DFLers have experience with the DFL and know its issues, he said, which can be a reward almost immediately.

“It’s certainly an advantage when going in and applying for (DFL) jobs, whether it’s in the main office or whether it’s with our campaigns or our coordinating campaign,” O’Leary said.