Students4Bernie unique among clubs on campus

Ana Bon, Artistic Director

How involved are Madison College students in political affairs? How interested?

About 40,000 students are enrolled in the college at nine locations. There are 91 student clubs and organizations. Yet one of those clubs – while just four members strong – stands out. It is the only one at Madison College to support a single presidential candidate.

“I don’t know if he is the perfect candidate; he is the best candidate,” says Jackson Willis, one of the two leaders of MATC4Bernie.Willis is referring to Sen. Bernie Sanders D-VT, the only presidential candidate with a club on Madison College campus.

“I think it is important for students to get organized. I am thinking the U.S. historically, and it was students who did a lot of things, like Civil Rights movements,” Willis says. He believes that movements like these are crucial for presidential candidates. This movement is what makes radical changes and it’s the inspiration behind their college.

“’Even the best president in the world cannot take on the billionaire class alone. We need a mass movement of millions,’ this is a Sander’s quote that we are inspired by,” says Willis.

“Radical change has always come from mass movements. What we’re doing with Movement4Bernie is building a movement around Bernie Sanders’s demand,” Willis adds. “Like a $15 per hour minimum wage and free public higher education as well as organizing against the racism coming from the right-wing.”

Willis is also a member of the Madison’s political organization, Socialist Alternative. Their national slogan, Movement4Bernie, has been the inspiration behind the on campus club, MATC4Bernie.

After administration showed concern about the club’s name due to the implication of the school’s initials in MATC4Bernie, decisions have been made to change the club name to Students4Bernie.
Willis admits that in the midst of tabling for MATC4Bernie on school grounds, people have approached him with opposing and distressing comments — comments he would rather not share.

“People have a lot of misconceptions about what we’re about, about what they think we are trying to do, compared to what we actually want,” he adds. “People think socialism is the government will control everything and will own everything.”

But distressful comments don’t stall Willis or his club. They have planned upcoming events, including more tabling. He said students also seem to show interest in joining the club, “a good amount,” he says.

The club has goals of setting up tables on campus at least once a week a long with reoccurring events.

Past events have touched topics and issues like crisis in education, student debts and other issues concerning students.

He believes that the meaning of having a club on campus is to sprout a movement that can make powerful changes.

“We think there is a shift in politics, people are getting more active in politics, we can see with Black Lives Matter and things like that, and after Occupy especially, he says.
Willis believes that within each organization and club, thrives an energy that grows with the augmentation of members. That power lies within each and one of us.

“We think that basically Bernie Sanders campaign is inspirational,” he says. “There’s kind of a momentum that Bernie Sanders campaign has and we’re worried that after the primaries if he looses it will dissipate.”

“Like in 2011 after all the protests downtown for the union with the teachers, it turned into the recall thing and everyone went away and it dissipated and this energy was gone.”

The protests were in response to the passing of Act 10 and drew 100,000 protesters to the Capitol at the height of the protests. The protests were followed by a recall election to recall Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker survived the recall and used it as an example of his success during his own presidential run.

“We want to keep this energy, we want Bernie sanders to run all the way until November,” Willis says.