AU group rallies effort for Howard Dean campaign

Politically active student Democrats are forming a grassroots campaign group called Generation Dean American University, for Democratic Presidential candidate and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

The group is in the process of gaining official recognition from the University, according to Generation Dean AU Coordinator David Kinsey.

Generation Dean is an umbrella organization for all college campus Generation Dean chapters throughout the country. Although not an official part of the Dean For America campaign, the goal of Generation Dean is to mobilize grassroots support for the former Governor using various tactics.

Generation Dean AU is in its infancy this year. Despite that, the group has recently grown from 18 members at the start of this semester to 45. Kinsey hopes to at least double the membership as they have more meetings in the next few weeks.

"In one hour being out here [Involvement Fair], we've signed up 150 members," Kinsey said. "We're trying to get at least a thousand students involved by winter break."

Among the group's tactics are signing up Dean supporters, posting support flyers around the metro area, bringing the Dean message to minority groups and bringing their message to people who do not have Internet access by gaining them Internet access, according to member Laura Reznick.

A major tool of Generation Dean is the Internet. The campaign is widely organized through e-mails, message boards, event listings, online donations, online Web logs and to have citizen discussions about Dean.

"Right now, 600 schools are associated with Generation Dean; that's more than Al Gore had," Kinsey said.

Dean is an ardent Democrat whose message includes universal health care, funding for farmers and ranchers to obtain equity capital, repealing the current tax cuts, balancing the national budget, ensuring the integrity of Social Security and creating an international alliance to defeat terrorism. Also, one of his most important issues is investing in renewable energy sources in order to decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

"We need someone in office who will tell it how it is and Dean is that person," Kinsey said.

Group members' support for Dean comes from many different avenues, one of them being his foreign policy approach. Freshman and member Laura Reznick said she appreciates Dean's "having a foreign policy that would regain our respect in the world and have people in other countries looking up to us and admiring us again instead of fearing us and being angry at us, the way they are now."

The group also feels betrayed by the Bush administration in terms of their oil-focused approach to the energy policy, the recent tax cuts and the administrations handling of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They feel that the country should be investing in more renewable energy sources, uniting the world with an alliance to defeat terrorism instead of dividing the world against the United States and repealing the tax cut.

Also important to their support is Dean's inclusion of the youth in the current Presidential campaign. Reznick, Kinsey and another Generation Dean AU member Mike Whitney all cite their appreciation for Dean's "means what he says" approach to politics.

"We're trying to join with schools like George Washington whom we have a connection with, but we're also competing with them to get members." According to Kinsey, the group is looking into having Dave Matthews perform, possibly in a benefit show, in the area as well as bring Dean to campus to speak.

"I want a president that will make me proud to be an American again," Reznick said.

Reaction on campus has been mixed though with varying attitudes on the formation of Generation Dean.

"Bring 'em on," Ibbie Hedrick, President of the AU College Republicans said by e-mail.

Generation Dean has found support among another Democratic group though.

"I applaud the founders of this new club but I also strongly believe that the College Democrats provide the best arena for those interested in getting involved in the political process, because we provide opportunities in everything from community service, to local races and the Presidential races." Noah Black, President of the AU College Democrats said by e-mail.

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