The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with various political clubs at Penn to talk about their plans and objectives for the fall 2023 semester.
Penn College Republicans has already started organizing on campus, planting nearly three thousand flags on College Green to commemorate the 2,977 people who died during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I think it's super important to recognize everybody who has given something to this country or given everything to this country," Peter Kapp, College sophomore and political director of College Republicans, said.
Kapp said that the 9/11 flag memorial was a precursor to future community work the student group hopes to get more involved in this semester. They have reached out to the Veterans Affairs and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters near campus to determine how to help.
Kapp added that the club is looking to start a conservative reading group, with the goal of providing students with a chance to read from a perspective they wouldn’t necessarily see in Penn classes, which Kapp said tend to be more left leaning. The books will likely include a wide range of topics, from political philosophy to pop culture.
They also hope to organize a few speaker events and host a watch party for the Republican primary debate on Sept. 27. The group is looking forward to how the upcoming 2024 election will unfold, Kapp said.
Registering people to vote remains a focus of Penn Democrats, according to College junior and Communications Director of Penn Democrats Nicole Giegerich, who added that by Congress' highly partisan nature, it is difficult to get liberal legislation passed without an outright majority.
“We continue to prioritize voting as something we're really big on because you just can't get things done unless you have the numbers,” Giegerich said.
Registering people to vote is a key part of Penn Dems’ bigger plan to advocate more for specific legislative policy.
Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, abortion is a key issue on which the club has focused. There is a measure on the ballot in November in Ohio that, if passed, would establish a constitutional right to abortion in the state.
Another important swing state Penn Dems wants to dedicate energy toward is Virginia. Since the governor, Glenn Youngkin, is a Republican, Giegerich said it was important for Democrats to take back the House of Delegates to control the state legislature.
Locally, Penn Dems is looking forward to the general mayoral election in November as well as campaigning in the suburbs, where elections tend to be more contested, according to Giegerich.
Penn Young Democratic Socialists of America
Last semester, Penn YDSA worked to support labor movements at both Penn and in the broader Philly area and plans to continue supporting these movements, according to Penn YDSA Organizing Director and College senior Taja Mazaj, who is also a DP opinion writer.
Mazaj added that her club also wants to build up a stronger leftist community at Penn, seeking to work with different groups on campus like Students for the Preservation of Chinatown, Fossil Free Penn, and Police Free Penn.
Penn YDSA also plans on starting its own book club to expose members to socialist texts, hosting speaker events, and getting involved with mutual aid organizations, Mazaj said. The group’s main focus, however, will be forming a stronger network and community among different organizations and within Philadelphia to create "productive change" on campus.
“We want to continue collaborating with [other organizations] and make Penn’s community more conducive to organizing and make sure that students are aware of issues that are happening on campus and within Philly and make sure that there is a clear link between the two," Mazaj said.