Guest Opinion: A New Way for the New College Democrats


(Courtesy College Democrats at the University of Utah)

By Mason Moore


Looking back at archived issues of The Daily Utah Chronicle, a curious pattern of campus politics seems to emerge. A year or so ahead of a presidential election, student political organizations will start to gain traction, boosting their memberships, holding debates and generally doing what politically interested students do. Then, energy and enthusiasm surges around an election year, with the standard political tabling and flyer distribution taking over campus. Finally, as election season ends, interest wanes and the organizations decline, sometimes splintering or even collapsing entirely. 

Although this cycle is by no means unique to the University of Utah or to Utah itself, what is unique is how dramatic the changing of the campus political landscape can be. What has made the U especially prone to this kind of short-lived political movement is the fact that Utah has been dominated by a single political party for years. Maintaining political engagement for anything other than a national election is hard since the outcome of local politics is a foregone conclusion. The surprising news of modern Utah politics is that according to demographers, one-party dominance is changing.

The demographic makeup of Utah is shifting to include more minority representation, urban centers and youth participation, indicating that the turn of the decade is ushering in a new and very different political landscape for our state. Sometime in the next decade, we are extremely likely to see this new demographic reality move Utah from red to purple. We have already witnessed that our state over the last decade — despite maintaining a Republican majority — has had one of the steadiest swings to the left in American politics. This trend is only anticipated to continue.

The most exciting aspect of more balanced political representation in Utah is the opportunity for discourse and debate to have a real impact on policy. That upcoming opportunity is why a group of campus activists, including myself, have decided that this semester should mark the reactivation of the College Democrats at the University of Utah (CDUU).

When I first came to this campus, we were in the midst of the tumultuous 2020 Presidential election, and I went looking for places where my volunteer effort could make the most difference to what I am certain was one of the most consequential elections of our lifetimes. I found next to nothing. That isn’t to say that there are no Democratic opportunities in the state — for a state with a currently broad Republican majority, there are a surprising amount of high-level positions on Democratic political and issue campaigns that are open to undergraduates. The current difficulty is taking the existing political will of Utahn students and turning that into activism potential.

Fundamentally, the CDUU was built to create a bridge between willing volunteers and progressive activism opportunities. Starting last year, Utah finally formed a Democratic student organization, the College Democrats of Utah, which is a federation of statewide college Democratic activists. As the new University of Utah chapter of that organization, we feel that we have the unique opportunity to build a system for connecting students on our campus to volunteer positions across the state. An equally large part of our purpose is to provide a forum for Democratic politics, but we recognize that the fractious past of our campus political landscape came about by thinking of student political organizations as a vector for specific ideas and candidates. In the CDUU, we want to provide a big tent organization for students from across the Democratic spectrum to find opportunities and represent their ideas across the long term, not just every four years.

A new generation — our generation — of young Utahns are trending solidly liberal, and it will fall to us to be the decision makers of tomorrow. A Democratic swinging Utah is a political reality that won’t be going away, and that positions us at an exciting point in history. We at College Democrats are excited to create the opportunity to build a new student organization in a time of great political change, but we also recognize our responsibility to build a stable home for Democratic activism on campus that has the capacity to weather the political pressures that are likely to be in our future. We know that we are a part of a time in history that will come to define our campus and our country, and we are starting the College Democrats because none of us want to look back at this time only to say we were idle while it was happening.


— Mason Moore, President of College Democrats at the University of Utah


The Daily Utah Chronicle publishes guest op-eds written by faculty, elected officials, and other members of the public on topics relevant to students at the University of Utah. The Chronicle welcomes guest op-ed pitches here.