Students who seek an avenue for political expression at UCSB but want to avoid the mainstream Democrat and Republican parties have another option in the Green Party.
The UCSB Campus Greens was formed last spring by sociology professor John Foran and has grown to 10 active members with a 50-person mailing list. To form the club, Foran sent out a mass e-mail asking anyone interested in a Green Party club to respond, sociology graduate student Jennifer Rogers said. She – along with senior environmental studies and Spanish major Samantha Escobar and second-year computer science major Christoffer Dunstan – comprised the club’s founding membership.
Escobar said Foran was interested in creating a Green Party club on campus because he is involved in the Santa Barbara County Green Party and saw UCSB students as an untapped source of youthful energy.
Rogers said the club was officially registered with the Office of Student Life earlier this quarter. She said all of the founding members joined the Green Party because they were disillusioned with the two main parties.
“I joined a third party after the last election because [Al] Gore was very much like [George W.] Bush,” Rogers said. “People wanted a change because they were so scared of the alternative. I don’t want to vote out of fear. Third-party candidates help to push the other candidates to talk about issues that are important to talk about.”
Due to a lack of funds, Campus Greens have been unable to contribute to the campuswide efforts of several student organizations to register people to vote, Rogers said. However, the club held an anti-Bush march and rally last Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara and invited independent candidate Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate, Peter Camejo, to speak at UCSB on Oct. 12 to help inform students about Green Party causes.
The club also has plans to organize more events to mobilize students, possibly in partnership with groups holding similar views, Escobar said.
Escobar said her motivation in voting Green was for better representation of minorities.
“I joined the third-party system because I am an ethnic minority and felt that the two major political parties didn’t accurately represent the people,” she said. “I [previously] voted for the lesser of two evils. My main goal [through the Green Party] is to provide outreach to other ethnic minorities who want to think outside the box.”
Dunstan said the Democratic and Republican parties are not strong enough on environmental protection issues. She also said they are too controlled by corporate interests and allow Americans’ need for oil to dictate too much of U.S. foreign policy.
“Third parties are important because they provide an alternative to the two other parties, who often end up on one side of an issue while the American public ends up on the other side of the issue,” Dunstan said.
Rogers said the Green Party advocates issues that are important to her, like closing corporate tax loopholes, taking better care of the environment, paying more attention to social justice issues, providing universal health care and supporting women’s rights.
“The presidential election is a big way of getting people interested [in the Green Party] and to find out what the real issues are,” she said. “People need to learn how to demand what they need and to fight for the issues.”
The Campus Greens have no official stance on most local or national elections, Escobar said, allowing each member to decide on an issue on their own. The club does endorse Proposition 59, an amendment to the state constitution that would allow greater access to government records. They oppose Prop 69, which would mandate getting DNA samples from people arrested for certain crimes.
While Dunstan and Rogers both said they will probably vote for David Cobb, the Green Party presidential candidate, Dunstan said he recognizes the influence that Nader – who is running as an independent – has on voters.
“A lot of Greens will vote for him,” he said. “It depends on each person.”
Escobar said she wants to encourage voters to know the alternatives to the traditional two-party system.
“Come check us out and see what you like and what you don’t like,” she said.