Just when she felt as though America was fading as a beacon of democracy, Chloe Torres found a purpose in the Student Citizen Activists (SCA) club at the Island University.
On a fall day last year, Torres, sophomore political science major, stumbled across the SCA table in the breezeway as they were promoting one of their events. She said her deeply rooted political curiosity caused SCA to spark her interest. Now that she is a member, she only hopes that SCA will grow so more people become literate in politics and change can occur in the political sphere.
“After finding SCA, I actually got involved with politics and activism, and it just made me feel more fulfilled,” Torres said. “I’m actually going out and trying to let people know that they do have power.”
Right after the 2016 election, there was a lot of political turmoil, which caused some people to be motivated to action. One of those people was Daniel Yzaguirre, senior history and philosophy major and president of SCA. He, with his two roommates, started the Student Citizen Activists.
“Right after the election, I started taking oral histories from family and friends, and one of the things I noticed was that people… didn’t vote because they didn’t really know what was going on,” Yzaguirre said. “It showed me that there was a need to help people understand the political system and being a future educator, political education popped into my head.”
While his idea for bringing more political education to the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi campus has been well-received, SCA founders had some difficulty getting started. To become an official club, SCA had to do extra trainings because they missed some key deadlines. They also had to find a faculty adviser and go through lots of paperwork, Yzaguirre said. They were finally able to become an official organization in January 2017.
“When we first started… we [had] a couple of older citizens call our adviser and give them their opinion on starting a ‘liberal hippy group,’” Yzaguirre said. “But other than that, we’ve had a lot of support from the university and that’s allowed us to do great things.”
The club, which is non-partisan, started with a focus on political education, Yzaguirre said. This is why each of the meetings are centered on a political current event or issue that is particularly confusing. The goal is to give students factual information so they can make their own informed decisions. SCA also hosts speaker series events throughout the semester, to educate the campus community on a variety of political issues.
“When we started reaching out to professor for the series, we got way more responses than we’re able to actually do events…” Yzaguirre said. “It’s not just in political science, it’s across all the disciplines. We have a couple of philosophy professors, history professors, political science, art history, economics and things like that, that are willing to come and talk to the students.”
As the club expanded, the new active members wanted to bring activism to the club’s agenda, Yzaguirre said. Members have started to go to protests and marches, do information campaigns, and recently started working on a petition in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It is efforts such as these that Torres finds purpose in.
“We have started delving more into on the ground activism,” Torres said. “So doing marches, we did the March for Science. Doing ICE campaign information events, so we’ll be passing out little sheets of paper with information…. So yeah, more hands-on kind of stuff.”
While political education and activism are the organization’s official objectives, SCA also focuses on academic success and other issues such as social support within their club community. Yzaguirre said he loves seeing members start to grow and thrive in that environment. The students also make testimonies of these efforts.
“Daniel always makes sure we’re not only doing our stuff for the group, but also that we’re caught up in school,” said Annaley McAshan, freshman political science major and member of SCA. “He’ll ask us about how school is going and…, if we’re like ‘oh, I suck at history.’ He’ll [say], ‘oh, what are you having problems with?’ and he’ll teach us about it.”
SCA has a little more than 30 students on campus and more than 100 students on Facebook, and growing every day, Yzaguirre said. Its meetings are hosted every Wednesday at 7 p.m., and they are open to any student interested in learning about politics or interested in political activism.
For more information on the Student Citizen Activists or to find out how to get involved, visit their website at scactivistscc.wixsite.com/tamucc.