The Young New Democrats of Brantford, for all of their vigor, enthusiasm and star power in the form of a popular MP candidate, haven’t been able to penetrate Laurier Brantford’s club life. Even with actively involved political students and careful steps to complete the required process, for those with aspirations of beginning the first politically based group on campus, it still seems to be far away yet.
“In the way the system’s set up, it makes it very difficult for a group of students to come together and create a club, especially a club that has some political basis,” says Marc Laferriere, the NDP candidate for Brant’s riding.
Laferriere attests to the perceived chill the Young New Democrat’s feel from other clubs on campus.
“We actually hear the line ‘I don’t want to be political,’” says Laferriere. “I know there have been some advocacy groups on campus that have asked me to speak and then other members of their campus have said, wait, we don’t have to get political,’ and they’re political advocacy groups.”
David Prang, director of student services at Laurier Brantford, says that there is no prejudice in the confirmation process, stating the basic requirements of a campus club.
“I know there are a certain set of guidelines that the Student Union requires to officially recognize a club,” says Prang, “that it’s open to all students, and that there’s a process and a constitution and there’s sufficient membership.”
When asked if Laurier Brantford is attempting to ‘not get political’, Prang denies this vigorously.
“I certainly think politically based clubs serve a good purpose for students who are interested and I’d be very surprised if there was any push back to having clubs that have a political affiliation.”
Laferriere says that widely spaced-out WLUSU meetings, as a main factor, have inhibited the Young New Democrat’s ability to become part of Laurier’s campus in a timely manner. This doesn’t sit well with him.
“You know, that window is pretty limiting and in a university and or any organization, they need to find ways to be more flexible and more open to creation of student groups.”
On that note, Laferriere also adds, “I think that’s for university students to decide, not their faculty and not just their Student Union.”
Prang responds that in fact a Student Union is the voice for the wants and needs of the students.
“I think students are best in tuned to manage the activities of other students and that’s one of the principles that the university and the Student Union agree on.”
In the midst of all of this, the Young New Democrats have gotten creative. Instead of relying on Laurier facilities, they’ve chosen to meet once a month at the Blue Dog cafe, where local high school students, Mohawk students and Laurier Brantford students meet to discuss politics.
They plan to continue doing so in the future.