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New Student Clubs Spark More Dialogue About Politics On-Campus

Gracierae Smith-Gallegos ’12 never intended to get into politics. Watching her mother serve as mayor pro tem of her hometown of Pico Rivera was never very appealing. But after her closest cousin was injured in the Iraq War, Smith-Gallegos, a international business major at LMU, knew she wanted her voice to be heard.

“It is our responsibility as citizens to be involved — not necessarily as leaders, but to acknowledge and put to use our voice in our democratic system,” she said.

After looking online for a campus Democratic organization to no avail, Smith-Gallegos registered LMU with the Young Democrats of America and now serves as the president of the university chapter. The club became chartered with the California Young Democrats in spring 2009 and is currently establishing the club’s goals, format and preparing for club rush. The LMU Young Democrats of America plan to expand their membership, raise funds and connect with other Democratic organizations in Los Angeles.

“We look forward to, hopefully, persuading LMU to become more blue,” she said. “But we also look forward to having more dialogue with the Republican club, too.”

Lisa DeMoss ’12, president of the LMU College Republicans club, echoes this sentiment. “Having started just this last semester, the club is still very new, but we are excited about bringing Republican values to LMU.”

Last semester, club members were afforded the opportunity to meet Republican strategist and Bush administration official Karl Rove, and they plan to bring other Republican officials to campus. The club is now sponsored by the South Bay Republican Women, and will be working closely with Majority Next, a conservative youth movement.

“We are interested in re-branding the Republican image among college students because it seems like our age group is becoming a nexus for conservative thought,” said Joshua Fimbres ’12, events coordinator for the club. “We hope to work with anyone on campus interested in achieving this goal in order to make LMU a hub of political debate.”

Alumnus Danny Gonzales ’09, former member of the Young Democrats at LMU, is excited to watch LMU students participate in the political conversation.

“I think LMU students are very aware but, more importantly, proactive about making a difference. Discussing, debating, and finding the common ground in politics is what makes LMU distinguish itself from top universities around the country,” Gonzales said.