College Democrats pick new leaders

The College Democrats of Minnesota elected new executives at its 2005 convention at Willey Hall during the weekend.

Approximately 40 delegates from 10 schools statewide gathered to revise the organization’s constitution, elect a new slate of leaders and listen to guest speakers.

Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., said he enjoyed speaking to student organizations such as the College Democrats of Minnesota.

“In times like these, student involvement is vital. We need people who will roll up their sleeves and work hard,” he said.

Minnesota has some of the highest tuition rates in the nation, Dayton said. Many students and families are going into debt to pay for school, he said.

“When it comes time to support my aging generation, I wouldn’t be surprised if your generation told mine to get a loan,” he said.

Brian Leitzke, College Democrats of Minnesota state communications director, said one of the major changes the group voted on was to create a board of directors. Each campus would have a chapter chairman or chairwoman.

It also voted to change the process of appointing senior staff members and their responsibilities, Leitzke said.

“This convention was very progressive; our main goal was to push for diversity of membership and unity of purpose that will propel student involvement to make a difference in Minnesota,” said Austin Miller, chairman of the University DFL, the University’s Twin Cities campus chapter.

A new slate of executive board members was also elected: Emily Carr, of the University’s Morris campus, to vice president; Alex Valen, of the University’s Twin Cities campus, to secretary; and Tommy Walker, of Carleton College, to treasurer. Chris Montana, of the University’s Twin Cities campus, was re-elected to president for the statewide group.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar; Democratic Party chairman and chairwoman candidates Betty Folliard, Brian Melendez and Josh Syrjamaki; and prospective U.S. Senate candidates Patty Wetterling and Amy Klobuchar spoke to the group, encouraging strong student involvement and thanking the students for their efforts in previous campaigns.