Students for Bernie Pushing Forward During Democratic Primary


Kiffer Creveling

Thousands of people came to support Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders at his rally at This is the Place Monument in Salt Lake City, Friday, March 18, 2016 | Chronicle archives.

By Natalie Colby, Editor-in-Chief


There are 15 candidates left in the 2020 democratic primary for the presidential race, with four clear frontrunners — Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg — and only a handful of months until the democratic candidate is decided. These campaigns stretch across the country and have permeated the campus at the University of Utah with both official and unofficial organizations. 

Students for Bernie is the only official organization for a candidate on campus. The organization was started this summer and has since worked to gain momentum, with now 100 sign-ups in support of the club and candidate.

“It’s filled with people who heard Bernie’s message and were really excited about it,” said Natalie Sullivan, president of Students for Bernie. 

Sullivan said they learned how to launch the organization, how to run it and what impact they wanted to make through a series of webinars provided by Sanders for student organizations.

Students for Bernie at the U has mainly worked on canvassing this fall, a common campaigning technique that involves going out in public and trying to solicit votes for a candidate through education and promotion. 

They focused on two different strategies — canvassing with people they know, which includes talking about the popular politician with friends and family members, and people they don’t know, which mainly entails tabling at the U, often outside of the Marriott Library. 

Sullivan said the reaction from students is mostly positive. She said they start by asking if they are planning on voting in the Democratic primary and then pivot to talking about Sanders and their campaign. 

Not only do they work on campus, but they also partner with veterans, non-traditional students, people who contact them from the local community and even high schoolers who want to get a similar organization started at their own school. 

They also recently held a watch party for the Democratic debate on Nov. 20 with Students for Yang, the unofficial organization for the candidate Andrew Yang. With a turnout of over 50 people, Sullivan said it was a huge success for them and they hope to host more. 

Other plans for next semester include starting a podcast and holding a student debate where they find students to represent their personal favorite candidate. They also plan to hold watch parties for the January and February debates. 

This year, Utah votes for the primary on Super Tuesday, a Tuesday in March when the majority of states hold their primaries. This year’s Super Tuesday, held on March 3, will play a key role in determining the party’s nominee. Sullivan said this means the votes in Utah truly matter. 

Sullivan said Sanders was the reason she got into politics in the first place. She said she finds him inspiring because he is an activist first and foremost and his campaign slogan is “Not me. Us.” 

Forrest Jemming, a freshman biomedical engineering major, said he feels like Sanders is the best candidate. Jemming said Sanders especially connects with college students.

“College students have the education to see through the veil of misinformation and showmanship that other candidates use to gain popularity,” Jemming said. “Bernie works with the people, so it’s people’s responsibility to work with him.”

Some of Sanders’s policies would directly affect college students. Sullivan said he is focused on college for all and the cancellation of student loans. Additionally, Sanders plans to institute Medicare for all, a health care plan would provide everyone insurance through the federal government. Sanders says his health care plan would lower the prices Americans pay for prescriptions and surgeries. 

“The best part about all of Bernie’s plans is they are universal,” Sullivan said. 


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