The national committee of College Republicans named the GW College Republicans the best chapter in the United States last February. The GW College Democrats is one of the largest student organizations on campus.
So, why did senior Arman Tarzi, founder of the GW Democrats, decide last June that he should form another political student organization?
“We didn’t believe the democratic or progressive movement was acting as it should be at GW,” said Tarzi, who founded the organization with vice president Todd Jasper, a junior.
“The goal is not to maliciously compete,” Tarzi said. “Just to create another Democratic organization to expand and strengthen the progressive movement.”
Sean Smith of the College Democrats, an organization that he said has been around “so long that the Student Activities Center is not sure when we formed,” said while he understands the GW Democrats’ dissatisfaction, a new left-leaning organization on campus will have a negative effect.
“We understand their frustration with the past years, but we feel their efforts are hurting the democratic cause by creating confusion and division,” said Smith, a senior. “Our strong schedule shows we are the premier democratic organization on campus.”
GW Democrats, according to its Web site, has 800 members and does not collect dues from students. The CD’s, with more than 1,800 members, does collect dues.
Smith said this year the CDs will have a new vision for the future.
“To enhance the long term resources of our organization we are creating an alumni network, establishing an outside fundraising base, developing an internship database and improving our leadership transition process,” Smith said. “We have made the changes that will lead to lasting success.”
Tarzi said GW Democrats have already scheduled major events throughout the year including campaigning trips to Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
“It’ll put GW and GW Democrats on the map, nationwide,” Tarzi said.
The GW College Republicans are already on the national map. Formed at GW in 1908 with support from former U.S. President William Howard Taft, the College Republicans were elected the best chapter in the U.S. last year out of more than 1,500 chapters.
CR’s Chairman Gary Livacari, a senior, said the chapter has done a good job achieving goals set by the national organization in the past two years.
“We have an active and energetic membership, and we are committed to the ideals of the Republican Party,” Livacari said.
“We did not even know we were being considered,” Livacari said of the award. “People come to GW for politics regardless of whether or not they are a democrat or republican. The fact that the school tends to be more liberal motivates us because we are in an environment where more people disagree with what we stand for.”
Livacari added that the GW CRs do not know a lot about the new student organization, GW Democrats, but that the College Democrats are “emblematic” of the Democratic Party.
“The democrats in the national party are known to be divisive and not always getting along, especially the problems they are currently facing,” Livacari said. “I think this is similar to GW’s CDs.”
Tarzi rejects the notion that the GW Democrats are dividing the campus, instead he said they will unite the progressive movements on campus. He said the GW Democrats hope to create a council where all GW progressive movement organizations are represented so they can work together. He said the group also plans to publish its own magazine in the near future.
-Brandon Butler contributed to this report.