There was a kickoff meeting Friday in Jiménez Hall and more than 100 students attended. The group’s goal is to educate the campus about the candidate through different types of outreach.
Sanders identifies as a “democratic socialist,” and his policies relate to different aspects of socialism. His support is generally among leftist Democrats, and his campaign has a grassroots base, which has veered from the more moderate Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Cassidy Chassagne is a sophomore government and politics major and the social media coordinator for Terps For Bernie. She said that the group actually began with six members around one week ago and that over the course of six days it has become a group of almost 500.
She said that she supported Hillary in April because she didn’t know who else was going to run.
“[It] seemed [like] she was going to be anointed as president,” she said. “If I want an institutional change to this country, I’ve got to vote for Bernie Sanders.”
Mic, recently published an article that said the reason Sanders is so popular among millennials is because of his policies on drugs, student debt, income inequality and climate change.
Chassagne said that she is voting for Sanders because he promises to overturn Citizens United, a Supreme Court case that ruled in 2010 that the government cannot regulate “independent” political spending by corporations and unions towards political campaigns.
While she said that Clinton also advocates overturning Citizens United, she also uses super PACs to fund her campaign.
“[That’s] very hypocritical to me,” she said. “I don’t think it makes her a very reliable candidate on that case.”
Chasagne said that Bernie Sanders is running for the working-class and that his campaign does not have much funding because he is not supported by a super PAC or corporations, though he has the largest number of donors.
“It just shows that this is a grassroots effort,” she said.
Sanders’ support is embodied by the number of his supporters who show up at his rallies. Roxy Young, a sophomore in letters and sciences and director of engagement for Terps for Bernie, said that she attended a rally last Monday and saw him speak in Manassas, Va.
“Being surrounded by other Bernie supporters got me really excited,” she said. “He just focused on the issues and that really inspired me to want to make a change on this campus.”
She said the main reason she supports Sanders instead of Clinton is that he seems more genuine..
“For Bernie, his ideas and what he’s been preaching ever since he got in office [have] been the same, [they’re] progressive [ideas] that us college kids want,” she said. Young went on to say that Hillary has not always been a supporter of gay marriage.
“Bernie’s been an advocate for gay rights ever since he’s been in office,” she said. “And that really means a lot to me.”
J.T. Stanley, a senior independent studies major, executive director of the group, and longtime Sanders supporter said that he doesn’t like who moderate Democrats like Hillary Clinton have become.
“They love to do liberal rhetoric, yet they’ll act moderate on a lot of issues,” he said. “They’re part of the problem.” He said that he believes Sanders is not like that.
“I was surprised to see Bernie [become a part of the Democratic party] and get so much momentum,” he said. “That’s why I came to support him.”
Stanley says that his biggest issue is global warming. “[Voting for Sanders] is the last opportunity to actually save ourselves from that, through the system,” he said.
Clinton predominantly leads Sanders in the polls, but a Time article said that he has become the Democratic primary frontrunner in Iowa and New Hampshire. He is also ahead of Clinton in a CBS poll that was conducted with Yougov.
Fiona Caretto, a sophomore psychology and women’s studies double major, said that she likes Sanders because she feels he is more accessible, especially to college students.
“His story is more relatable, especially towards young people who are struggling with paying for college,” she said. “He doesn’t have big money supporters behind him, whereas Hillary just kind of has that set for her.”
“Even though he’s a politician and we’re college students, we still have the same struggles financially,” Caretto said.
Terps for Bernie has a Facebook page and the group will hold weekly meetings.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Phil Roeder.
Alex Carolan is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.