Passing the torch

When Molly Woon came to PSU from a small community college inAstoria, Wash., in 2002, she thought that an organization likeCollege Democrats would already be intact.

“When there wasn’t,” she said, “I decided that that wassomething that I wanted to make happen.”

When Saul Ettlin, who has led the College Democrats since lastsummer when he joined the group in an effort to get Howard Dean tospeak at PSU, stepped down, Woon stepped up to the task ofco-chairing the group with Kristin Wallace, another PSUstudent.

“I’m graduating in June and I’m done with all my classes sothere’s really no reason for me to continue,” said Ettlin.

“He basically handed off the torch,” said Woon, who is nowco-chairperson along with Kristin Wallace.

When asked about Woon and Wallace taking over his position,Ettlin enthusiastically said, “Molly and Kristin are in a positionto do some good work.”

With President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry in neardeadlock in Oregon voter polls, groups like the College Democratsare being formed to mobilize voters and maximize on voterpotential.

These groups like College Democrats could turn out to play acrucial role in deciding who gets elected this fall. Oregon is oneof the 18 swing states in the US, which makes it a target state forBush, who is already predicted to win in much of the south, andKerry, who is ahead in New York and California.

According to Woon, the College Democrats’ current objective isto recruit people that want to get involved.

“Then we can do bigger things, more efficiently,” sheexplained.

Woon explained their “three E” slogan: “We want to establishourselves as a group that is sustainable, we want to educate, toserve as a source of information, and we want to elect democratsinto office at all levels.”

College Democrats has been fluctuating in prominence fora number of years.

“College Democrats has come and gone,” Ettlin said. “It’susually quiet during non-election years.”

Ettlin is now member of the Young Voters Project, a splintergroup of the 21st Century Democrats. According to Ettlin, membersof the Young Voters Project are dedicated to mobilizing voters18-34 years old on campuses and in communities.

Both the Young Voters Project and College Democrats will becampaigning on PSU campus, though because College Democrats is partof the Democratic Party, election laws forbid them from workingwith non-partisan groups.

Members of the College Democrats are meeting in the park blocksnext Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to collect ballots.”Its called BYOB (bring your own ballot),” Woon said, “it would bea great time for someone to find a College Democrat.”

Students that are interested in joining a political organizationcan go to the “I Know What You Did Next Summer,” meeting onWednesday 4 – 7 p.m. in Smith 292 for more information.