New political student group Sincerely, America hosts Occupy the Rock event

Meghan Morris

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Their colors are neither red nor blue, and their ideology is neither left nor right.

Sincerely, America, a new political student group on campus, aims to align itself with the majority of Americans who are not on the extremes of either political party. The group held its first event Friday to draw attention to the middle ground between parties, a few hundred yards away from Occupy Chicago protesters at Kellogg.

Sincerely, America, which four students founded three weeks ago on the principles of cooperation and moderation, staged “A Tea Party to Occupy the Rock” on Friday as a starting point for future political involvement on campus. The “98 percent” – those who are not the one percent on the extreme left or one percent on the extreme right – gathered at the Rock to listen to speeches and songs, paint the Rock, talk politics and march to the arch to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The group’s founders said there is not another political group on campus that represents independents between the extremes of the Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street protesters on the left.

“We’re a voice to a lot of people who don’t relate to the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street but feel the same anger,” Weinberg senior and founding member Nicholas Drayson said. “We speak for the majority of Americans who aren’t on one extreme. We believe that moving the country forward is better than blind ideology.”

During the hour-long event at the Rock, both Sincerely, America members and other students made planned and impromptu speeches about politics.

Communication sophomore Mark Silberg spoke about the importance of pursuing an environmentally focused political agenda, and said the event could be a starting point for more political discussions on campus.

“The speeches were inspiring; there was a lot of rhetoric but a lot of true points too,” Silberg said. “We have a unique opportunity as young people to influence our local politics and I think that we can really get our voice heard on a unified front so people might actually listen to us.”

SESP sophomore Erin Turner said the main message of the speeches was education and involvement, which she supports. Turner has protested with Occupy Chicago, and said NU students need to be more politically involved.

“It’s encouraging to see people from all backgrounds coming together,” Turner said. “(Students) don’t necessarily need to protest but they need to be educated.”

After the speeches, attendees were encouraged to paint the Rock and help develop Sincerely, America’s manifesto. The document, which has not yet been finalized, outlines the group’s ideology.

“We want to show that moderates are the majority,” Drayson said. “The manifesto is common sense.”

The group is looking to expand to other schools, including the University of Wisconsin, Yale University and the University of Michigan.

The principles of the group would be fluid between chapters, co-founder and SESP senior Alessio Manti said.

In addition to expansion, Manti said Sincerely, America seeks to implement policy changes both on campus and in Evanston within the next month.

“We want to get some firm successes in the next month or two to show that we can get a return on this investment,” Manti said.

He said NU students can be hesitant about getting involved unless there are concrete benefits, so the group’s immediate goals are smaller, achievable policy changes that are not politically extreme.

Weinberg sophomore Dimitri Elias said while he has not been politically involved before, the group inspired him to do so because of the potential for transformation.

“I’m not an expert but I still have a voice and I think things should change,” Elias said. “We live in an incredible country, but even great things can be improved. We as a student body can make a difference.”

mmorris@u.northwestern.edu

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