Last week, a particularly unlikely pair of campus organizations demonstrated the power of unity in the wake of destruction.
The Cornell Democrats and the Cornell College Republicans joined together to raise funds to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina’s unprecedented devastation. The bipartisan strategy worked: after a week of canvassing for donations, the two organizations raised $1440 to give to the American Red Cross.
Volunteers from both the Democrats and Republicans manned a table on Ho Plaza between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. last Monday through Friday. It was the first time in recent years that the banners of the two organizations hung side by side, united for a common cause.
“I thought that if people saw us working together, they would realize that it was not a partisan effort but an American effort,” explained Paul Ibrahim ’06, chairman of the Cornell College Republicans.
Ibrahim pitched the idea to Mitch Fagen ’07, president of Cornell Democrats, who immediately agreed to the concept of a bipartisan fundraiser.
“If you are encouraging people to give money, you can make more by working together than you can separately,” said Fagen. “If people see us together, they know we must have a good cause, and you get donations from people of all political views.”
Over twenty members of each society volunteered to solicit donations on Ho Plaza. “Not only was the experience good for raising money, but our groups also got to know each other better,” said Ibrahim.
Ryan Lavin ’09, a member of Cornell College Republicans who spent time tabling last week, thought the bipartisan fundraiser was a tremendous success.
“Not only did the joint effort between the Republicans and Democrats motivate my participation, but it also motivated the donors. It’s not every day that you see Republicans and Democrats working together on campus,” he stated.
Cornell democrat Geoff Kozen ’08 agreed. “Both sides wanted to avoid conflict. It seemed that everyone realized this and was more than happy to embrace our common goal, leaving partisan bickering behind for the time,” he said.
Those who worked at the table agreed that fundraising was more effective as a joint effort than it would have been had the groups asked for donations separately.
“Helping victims of Hurricane Katrina should not be a partisan issue. By coming together in this fundraising drive, I think the Cornell College Republicans and the Cornell Democrats showed that Cornellians of all political stripes are united behind this effort,” said Jamie Weinstein ’06, a Sun columnist and volunteer.
Both Fagen and Ibrahim also agreed that should the need arise, they would happy to work with the other group in the future.
“If there is an American emergency, we put that first and politics second,” said Ibrahim. “This effort reflects on the American spirit and how Americans unite when emergency strikes.”
Archived article by Julie Zeveloff
Sun Staff Writer