With the 2016 presidential race in full swing, many citizens are watching and listening intently to the hopeful candidates. Some of these citizens are here on campus, and they have their eyes and ears firmly set on one candidate in particular, the 74-year-old Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders.
A progressivist at heart, Sanders has gained tremendous support from voters across the nation and is currently sitting in second place in the Democratic primary race behind front-runner Hillary Clinton.
His success is puzzling to some, but to others like TU student Jeffrey Bacon, it stems directly from the pure, individual-centered style of Sanders’ campaign.
Bacon, along with fellow students Jordan Hoyt and Brancen Gregory, founded the Bernie Sanders Club here on campus.
“The club was started with the dual purpose of spreading Bernie’s message and fighting against political apathy amongst young adults on this campus,” Bacon says.
Throughout his campaign, Sanders has remained an avid supporter of the common citizen, pushing for an increase in the minimum wage, increased taxation of the rich and tuition-free public universities, to name a few.
Bacon explains, “Bernie has opted to fund his campaign with numerous small contributions from the American people. He has refused to exploit the Citizens United Supreme Court decision by avoiding [funding from] very wealthy donors.”
Supporting the everyday man, however, is only part of Bernie’s campaign and only part of the reason the Bernie Sanders group was created. The other big linchpin in the club’s creation, according to Bacon, is the straightforwardness of Sanders’ campaign.
Bacon comments, “The acceptance of the LGBT community and the undeniability of basic climate science are [both] things Bernie has fought for for decades while people like Clinton were flip-flopping as was politically convenient.”
Bringing the issue of climate change into the local political sphere, Bacon adds, “Here in the black, beating heart of the oil industry, students are being trained to serve the interests of giant energy companies, interests that may not be at all compatible with the notion of a clean and sustainable earth for future generations.”
Bacon echoes Sander’s point on the importance of the individual, saying the “conservative politics [here] have convinced many open-minded young people that their voices cannot be heard, that their ideas don’t matter. Our ideas do matter, and we will make our voices be heard.”
Bacon hopes the Bernie Sanders Club will give students the opportunity to make their own voices heard throughout campus and Tulsa itself.
“Right now we’re working with Bernie Sanders’ campaign to participate in events all across the city. Our first major campus event is the debate watch party on October 13th in the Fishbowl. We’re going to watch the first democratic primary debate and encourage all students to attend, watch and discuss the debate.”
The Bernie Sanders Club meets every other Monday at 6 pm upstairs in the Allen Chapman Student Union. The next meeting will be held on Monday, October 6.
The club is currently in the process of becoming an official campus club chartered by SA.
If you’re interested in joining the Bernie Sanders Club, you can contact Bacon directly or join their Facebook group, University of Tulsa for Bernie Sanders.
If you are interested in learning more about candidate Bernie Sanders, you can follow them on Twitter or Instagram at TU4Bernie.