Recently, members of the University of Maine College Democrats achieved a complete takeover of the Maine College Democrats Board, filling all seven vacancies. The Maine Campus sat down with second-year Haden Buzzell, current treasurer of the UMaine College Dems and newly elected President of the Maine College Democrats, to discuss the organization’s current and future goals.
Locally, Buzzell says the UMaine College Dems work to “promote progressive causes and actions in fields like sustainability and social and economic justice…We promote Democratic candidates, although I wouldn’t call us dogmatic or particularly partisan…Generally, we try to collaborate with other progressive, liberal and left-leaning organizations in order to promote student causes on campus.”
The UMaine College Dems are the most active chapter in the state, with about 15 committed members. They ran unopposed after no candidates emerged from the Bates, Bowdoin and UMaine Farmington chapters. Colby College would normally be included in the mix as well. However, its chapter disbanded due to low membership.
Buzzell mentioned that this strong showing by the UMaine chapter was an important goal for the group. “Everyone on the new Maine College Democrats Executive Board is from UMaine, and that was on purpose because there hasn’t been a great deal of involvement with that organization for the past few years. We decided to step up and try to reorganize it.”
There has been some discussion about the motives behind the board’s takeover, including that of eventually disbanding the board. However, Buzzell clarified that the new executives mainly seek to “reorganize” and “tighten” the overall operation of the Maine College Democrats.
“Initially, in its Constitution, the Maine College Democrats is supposed to be an arm of the Maine Young Democrats. We’d like to make the College Democrats much less expansive of an organization…We hope to bring it back under the Maine Young Democrats umbrella because we feel like it would be a more effective use of our resources,” Buzzell said.
In bringing the Maine College Democrats back in tune with the Maine Young Democrats, there is hope that greater fundraising opportunities will be available, as the former has experienced times of financial difficulty in the past.
Another goal of the new executive board is to align its objectives with the needs of working Mainers after not paying proper attention to these needs in previous years. As for the role of the other state chapters in connection to the Maine College Democrats, Buzzell noted, “Bates, Bowdoin and UMaine Farming all have active College Democrats chapters that are still chartered, and we do intend to work with them. We’re not trying to push them out. It’s just that we’d like leadership to be a bit more receptive to public universities as opposed to the small private ones.”
Regarding the future of the UMaine College Dems’ local presence, Buzzell noted, “We are hoping to expand, but we feel confident with our current numbers that we can achieve our goals and pursue progressive causes.”
The group is currently looking to express its support for upcoming ballot questions, including the Pine Tree Power initiative and the Right to Repair, and hopes to disperse literature to students in order to inform them of such pressing policy topics.
For more information on the Maine College Democrats and its chapters, visit https://mainecollegedemocrats.org/um/. To view the “Citizen’s Guide to the 2023 Maine Referendum Election” published by the Maine Secretary of State, visit https://www.maine.gov/sos/news/2023/2023CitizensGuideOnline.html.