Students Make a Difference in California Primaries

Article excerpt

On March 7 NOW and NOW/PAC continued making headway in the Victory 2000 Campaign, electing at least one new feminist woman to Congress and sending more to the general elections in November. Thanks to the work of both national and local activists, the California primary was important organizing ground for women's rights. Activists also pushed to defeat the anti-lesbian and gay initiative, Proposition 22.

Once again in the primary, NOW witnessed the strength and vitality of young activists. High school students from the San Fernando NOW and Los Angeles NOW chapters put in many hours on the elections. College students from the University of Southern California (USC) and UCLA played key roles in electing NOW/ PAC's endorsed candidates as well as working tirelessly to defeat Prop. 22.

The USC campus, usually seen as conservative and apathetic, was so well organized that the school's Student Senate passed a resolution stating that the university was against the hate-filled Prop. 22; deans and faculty ran a full-page ad in the school paper; and at the suggestion of earlier NOW organizers, students had registered to vote where they go to school. Members ofthe Women's Student Assembly and the USC Student Senate organized a rally in the final weeks before the election that featured NOW President Patricia Ireland and mobilized over 200 students, faculty and staffto get out the vote against the proposition.

"I was so excited to see student groups working in coalition with the Board of Chaplains, administrators, faculty and staff to fight this denial of equal rights to lesbians and gays," asserted Ireland.

NOW sent two full-time organizers to California last October to prepare the turf for the primary. A month before the elections, Senior Field Organizer Angela Arboleda, working out of the Los Angeles NOW office, mobilized the base to get out the vote. Ireland and Action Vice President Elizabeth Toledo campaigned in California in the fall and spring, working with chapters, campuses and other allies.

The Sunday before the election NOW organized a rally at West Hollywood Park, where Ireland kicked-off the final days of election organizing and urged people to vote NO on Prop. …