Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Notre Dame College Democrats: Club of the Year 2009-2010

Dear College Democrats of Notre Dame,

Today our organization was awarded the 2009-2010 Notre Dame Club of the Year. Out of more than 200 (correction: 334!) student groups at Notre Dame the College Democrats were selected as the most active and effective club on campus.

This moment and this award put into context the amount of work we have done as an organization. We took the College Democrats to unforeseen levels in the 2008 campaign, but I am more proud of what we have done since the election of President Obama. Our campus is on the front lines of American politics, showing that students are not just the future of the party. TODAY we are the energy, the ideas, and the backbone to political activism in the United States and across the world. We won this award at Notre Dame without an election to catalyze our efforts, because students on this campus are invested in the well being of the American people. Because seeing inequality and suffering makes us willing to sacrifice our time to elect leaders AND hold them accountable to our demands. We believe in equal opportunity for all, and have worked tirelessly here at Notre Dame to do everything in our power to make the American dream attainable for ALL Americans.

Politics provide an opportunity for systemic change. No matter how trivial political debates become, or how many politicians turn their back on the people, the path to justice is public policy. We must continue to be resolute in our pursuit of change at the local, state, and federal level. One signature by President Obama has the power to improve the lives of millions. It is that power that we all work so hard to utilize, and it is why we all need to stay involved in the fight for a just United States.

I am bursting with pride about what we have done to transform the perceptions of Notre Dame students by people in South Bend and across the country, and how we have altered the way current students and alumni view this University. At this supposedly conservative Catholic school we have constructed a vivacious network of progressive students that are coworkers and friends.

For all of you that get the e-mails but have not yet attended a College Dems meeting, or haven't consistently been a part of the club. JOIN US. We are always seeking more active members. However, we could never have gotten to where we are today without the participation of the dozens of students who come out once or twice a semester when they have enough time. It is not just the regulars that define this club.

The College Democrats of Notre Dame is more than an organization that uses the abilities of students to elect Democrats and fight for progressive policy. This organization introduces students to political activism and engages the campus in political debate. Our club develops leadership on campus and is a stepping stone to a politically active life for all who have participated. I am extraordinarily grateful and honored to have worked with so many incredible students in my time at Notre Dame, our potential is limitless. Keep your voices raised. This country needs us!!

Thank you for everything you have done to change our University and our country.

With love,

Chris Rhodenbaugh, former Co-President of the College Democrats of Notre Dame

p.s. in case you don't know what we have accomplished in 2009 and 2010
  • Maintained a solid membership with 25-40 attendees at every weekly meeting.
  • Held weekly dining hall dinners to build a social network for students.
  • Operated over 20 phone banks in partnership with Organizing for America, making over 6000 calls for health care reform.
  • Held 6 phone banks for a strong clean energy bill, in one night we made more calls than any other phonebank in the country for RePower America
  • Coordinated with the White House during the final days of the health care debate to write a letter and send out a press release urging Congressman Donnelly to support health care reform.
  • Had a consistent media presence in The Observer, and we have been featured on local radio and tv stations including NBC and FOX news.
  • Hosted meetings that regularly included guests such as local politicians and candidates.
  • Built strong relationships with other student organizations such as PSA, MeCha.
  • Held regular service events with Hope Ministries, Catholic Worker, Center for the Homeless.
  • Worked consistently with other Indiana College Democrats chapters and brought more students to both statewide College Democrats events, convention and fundraising dinner, than any other organization.
  • Defeated IU Bloomington, 24,127 more undergraduate students than Notre Dame, in an OFA phonebank competition by making more than 1,000 calls for health care reform in one night.
  • Hosted prominent speakers such as liberal talk show host Cenk Uygur.
  • Worked extensively on issues outside of campaigning such as clean energy, GLBT rights, genocide, foreign policy, and labor.
  • Showed issue based documentaries including Sicko and Rethink Afghanistan and sponsored events such as "Are YOU funding conflict in Congo?"
  • Exerted a strong progressive voice in the South Bend community.
  • Co-sponsored a city-wide health care rally.
  • Operated successfully without a Fall CCC budget allocation.
  • Maintained consistent and varied programming with an average of 2 events or opportunities each week.
  • Built a reputation statewide and nationwide as one of the strongest College Democrats chapters in the country.


Andrea Watts said...

On behalf of CDIN, let me just say how proud I am to have Notre Dame as a part of this federation :)

Keep up the great work!!!

Aly said...

Thank god you're not leaving this year. You continue to inspire us all everyday, and you've done amazing work :) Rock on, Chris!

p.s. I might have teared up a bit whilst reading this post.

Bill said...

Good job, guys!

Henry Vasquez said...

I'm so happy right now!

This family of Democrats has been such a defining part of my experience at Notre Dame. It is the 100 or so individuals that have worked with the dems that have made the past 4 years so rewarding. As a political science student, I have come to realize that so much of learning is actually doing. Nothing in class can ever compare to the lessons I've learned on the political battlefield.

I couldn't ask to leave on a better note. You will all go on to do even bigger and better things next year, when there are tough elections to work on and an office (cross your fingers) to operate from. I can't wait to visit ND next fall for the first annual Democrats Alumni tailgate and see a even stronger club than ever.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea the liberal community was so strong at Notre Dame. You'd never know that considering the coverage of the Obama speech last spring.

Sarah Furman said...

so great =)

ShamRockNRoll said...

Hell yes! This is so awesome! I am so happy to have been a part of this amazing group of people, and to have done my part to help us grow the way we have. Thank you so much to all of you who have made this club what it is. I know that when I graduate in a couple weeks, that College Dems is in good hands. Can't wait to see what lies ahead!

Colleen Lowry said...

Congratulations to everyone :) Being a College Dem has made me into the person I am today, and I could not have done it without all of you wonderful people. Every Sunday feels more and more like a big family dinner. I love you all!

Liz Furman said...