Sanders supporters start club

Democratic Socialists join UTD’s political landscape after receiving approval from the Student Organization Center in February

After spending the fall semester advertising and gathering supporters, the Democratic Socialists club has been approved to join the UTD community.

Nicolas St. John, the president and founder of the Democratic Socialists and a physics junior, first heard the term used in a Bernie Sanders rally in Dallas in July of 2015.

“I heard (Sanders) say that that’s what he was and I heard his speech and I agreed with every single thing that he said during his speech,” Nicolas St. John said.

After that moment, he decided to begin aligning himself with democratic socialism.

Inspired by the political ideology, Nicolas St. John began drumming up interest last semester to see if he could find enough students to start a club.

His goal was to find five members before applying with the Student Organization Center. After hanging flyers and meeting unofficially with interested students, he came to the SOC at the beginning of the semester with 10 members and the club was approved.

One of the first members of the club was the founder’s brother, Joel St. John. The biology sophomore serves as the treasurer of the club.

Like his brother, Joel St. John found out about democratic socialism through the same Bernie Sanders rally. However, just because the two brothers both identify as democratic socialists doesn’t mean they share identical viewpoints.

Nicolas St. John said there were two different sides to the ideology — the side that views it as a stepping stone to total socialism and the side that sees it as a way to humanize capitalism. He falls on the latter side. Joel St. John, on the other hand, is a proponent of socialism for the country.

“To me, democratic socialism is a nice step because it’s really, really hard to just change everything over night. You need a process,” he said. “It’s a really good process to socialism.”

Nicolas St. John said he is a democratic socialist as defined by Bernie Sanders. During Sanders’ speech, his points about making college tuition free resonated with Nicolas St. John.

“I’ve personally struggled with the fact that I have to work and go to college,” he said. “I know my grades would improve substantially if I could not work and go to college.”

Both of the brothers agree that democratic socialism is the best thing for the country at the moment. Their club seeks to help spread information about both Bernie Sanders and the political affiliation in general.

Right now, in the early stages of the club, Nicolas St. John said they are focusing on running a booth in the Student Union. As a deputy registrar for both Collin and Dallas County, he has been helping people register for the primaries and the general election.

In addition to informing the public, the club also helps out with the Sanders campaign on a national level. Chelsea Ellison, the vice president of the club and a cognitive science senior, said they have been working with the College Democrats on campus to do phone banking.

Rather than trying to convince people to try to vote for Sanders, the club gathers information about how people are voting in the upcoming election and sends the data to the campaign.

Another goal of the club is to find a way to get college-aged students excited about voting. Ellison said involvement in the political process is crucial.

“This is really important no matter what field or major you’re in,” she said. “This is about all of us and we all have a responsibility.”

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