University at Albany College Democrats named Chapter of the Year by national chapter
By Kassie Parisi
The UAlbany College Democrats have been named Chapter of the Year by the College Democrats of America.
The club received this honor on the final day of their summer national convention in Washington, D.C. Though there were only two members of the club present at the convention, this recognition was a result of the combined efforts of every member of the group.
This is the second time the UAlbany chapter has received this award.
Jamie Zieno, president of the UAlbany chapter, said that while achieving this honor was indeed a personal goal he had set for himself, it came as a surprise when they won. According to Zieno, it was a shock because the club was going against institutions that have access to many resources, such as Brown University and Yale University.
In order to win, the UAlbany College Democrats needed to do something that set them apart from all of the larger competitors.
One of the main accomplishments that led to the victory was the group’s involvement with the presidential election in November of 2012.
The club members travelled around the campus attempting to get people to register to vote.
Advocates did things such as make appearances in classes and give short speeches on why the votes of college students are important while also giving instructions on how to register for those students who did not know.
More than 1,000 students ended up registering to vote as a result.
Though the amount of students in the group varies from year to year, the members were able to accomplish their task.
However, despite their changing numbers, Zieno said, “We are the largest political group on campus and we take pride in that.”
Public officials are very aware of the work that the UAlbany Democrats do.
In a press release, New York’s 20th congressional district Paul Tonko said, “I am proud to call many of these young Democrats my constituents and I have worked closely with them on my campaigns, the campaigns of other candidates and issues important to today’s students.”
Senator Neil Breslin is also active within the group and spoke at the group’s general interest meeting.
Zieno predicted that club interest and membership this year would go up because of the recent recognition.
He said that there would be a lot of new faces at the general interest meeting.
Activities of members in the group largely depend on how much individual effort each member puts in.
“Some people spend hours and hours doing work, and then some people just come to hear the speakers,” Zieno said.
The past year has been very eventful for this group. According to Zieno, President Jones sent them a letter of recognition to top everything off.
Although the UAlbany College Democrats are going to try to continue to meet the standards that they set for themselves last year, the same group typically does not win the award multiple years in a row, as it could be considered favoritism.
Even if they don’t win again, the work will not stop. “The club does so much, and it’s such an influential voice on campus,” Zieno said, pointing out that they are only a phone call away from the political figures in Albany.
The group serves not only as a political statement, but also as a safety net for students.
Anyone is able to give their concerns to this group and have them listened to.
This ability causes the UAlbany College Democrats to live up to Zeino’s definition of the group, which is that they are “an influential voice in the Capital Region.”