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College Democrats’ Struggle After Split with College Republicans


Ever since I started attending UNG in fall of 2019, I always wondered if there were any political groups on campus. A couple examples include the College Republicans group in Dahlonega, and even Nighthawk Politics in Gainesville.

However, in Dahlonega there were no signs of a College Democrats group. Nothing on Instagram and nothing on UNG Connect. It was not until I reached out to different political groups across UNG to get their views on President Biden’s first month of office when I noticed signs of a College Democrats group. Though, not all of this is the fault of the College Democrats group.

When I attended one of the group’s meetings on Zoom, political science teacher Carl Cavalli told me about the history of the group. Cavalli is the faculty advisor for both the College Republicans and College Democrats groups, and has noticed the differing levels of success of both groups.

In fact, up until a couple years ago, the College Republicans and the College Democrats attended and hosted many different events together. These events include a State of the Union watch gathering, a debate between UNG Democrats and UNG Republicans, “A Conversation with President Bill Clinton”, and a 2018 Election Night gathering hosted by the Political Science Student Association (DAH).

When I asked why the two groups attended events with each other, Cavalli said, “UNG has largely avoided all the divisive political wars that plague other campuses. That is something I was proud to be associated with. The main reason was that they were all friends and acquaintances. It’s harder to argue with a friend than with a stranger, and these groups were all friends.” For example, at the 2018 election results event, both groups were pictured having a good time, enjoying chili as the results came in.

Up until the fall of 2019, both groups had a decent following on social media, with the College Democrats having 600 followers on Facebook, a bit less than the College Republicans’ 780 followers but still comparable. Fall 2019 was when Cavalli noticed that the change in personnel started the end of the relationship between the two groups. Unfortunately, there has been no effort to try to rekindle the relationship between the two groups. Now, the College Democrats is making attempts to rebuild their following.

It hasn’t been easy though. Cavalli said that on December 10, 2020, Facebook “unpublished” the College Democrats Facebook page for unspecified reasons, which was the main way the group communicated. Cavalli’s attempts to contact Facebook to reinstate the page has been unsuccessful.

Robert Duran, a junior who majors in psychology, has been the president of the College Democrats since 2019. Duran described the recruitment process outside of social media. “Most recruitment efforts have centered around word-of-mouth to differing effects. There were semesters in which we had upwards of fifteen people show up for every meeting, and there have been semesters where I’ve been alone at the meetings,” said Duran. “Other recruitment efforts have involved tabling, business cards, and on-campus posters.”

Duran said that his experience with the group has been positive. He has learned a lot about politics and organizing a group. However, Duran thinks that the future of the College Republicans and College Democrats partnering up looks dim. He stated that there has been no communication between the College Democrats and College Republicans under new leadership.
“As much as I would enjoy going back to the old days of the groups being close to one another, I can’t see it returning in my remaining tenure of college,” said Duran.

Cavalli thinks that at some point, both groups will partner up again. He said, “There have been times when both organizations struggled for membership. Each has overcome those struggles eventually. I am optimistic that the UNG Democrats will regain their stature and that eventually, the two campus parties will once again work together.”

“I have my own personal preferences, but I believe in a two-party system. Not one that constantly battles from the standpoint of enemies, but one that brings different perspectives to the table for constructive discussion. That works best when both groups are fully functioning.” – Carl Cavalli

Cavalli said, “UNG, Lumpkin County, and northeast Georgia are largely conservative areas, but there are more Democrats than many realize. I’ve known this about UNG for about 25 years – going back to when we were North Georgia College – because we used to survey student preferences.” According to the surveys, about one-third of the Dahlonega campus identified with the Democrats. Cavalli thinks that ratio still stands.

Though the College Democrats group has been through some troubles recently, eventually they will be able to gain more members. If you are interested in joining the College Democrats, you can follow their Facebook page. College Democrats also has an Instagram page. They meet every second and fourth Monday of the month on Zoom, which can be found on UNG Connect.

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College Democrats’ Struggle After Split with College Republicans