Nearly 3,500 people came to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Students for Bernie Concert and rally at the University of Iowa’s Iowa Field House in Iowa City, Iowa, Saturday. Out of those 3,500 people, a handful traveled about three hours from Truman State to be part of the event.
The rally drew a large crowd, in part from the opening performances from Foster the People and Vampire Weekend, and appearances by actor Josh Hutcherson and author and activist Cornel West. The concert was free, and attracted music-lovers and political fanatics alike.
“This is an event that won’t be repeated,” Truman State sophomore Ben Wallis says. “It’s an event you wouldn’t want to miss out on because its pretty unparalleled.”
Wallis is a member of the campus organization Students for a Democratic Society. Many of the Truman students at the rally were members of SDS with an interest in the politics of the event.
“I think it’s really important for students to be politically active,” Wallis says. “I think people are looking for viable political outlets, and they don’t get that in a lot of ways. Coming out to do this presents an opportunity to express themselves.”
However, Wallis says the group didn’t come to support Sanders or any one candidate.
“We don’t endorse any political candidate, although many of our supporters do support Bernie,” Wallis says.
Wallis says the students did not come to Iowa City as an official group, but rather as individuals with an interest in the event.
Unlike other groups created to support a certain candidate or party, SDS explores all aspects of the political process through open debate, discussion and participation, sophomore SDS member and TMN contributor Will Chaney says.
“We tend to not have one or two leaders or even an exec board,” Chaney says. “In general, the organization is pretty horizontal.”
Chaney says though some of the SDS members are Sanders supporters, others are undecided or choose focus on issues rather than candidates.
“[SDS is a] multi-tendency organization,” Chaney says. “A lot of members in SDS are interested in socialist, communist, leftist ideas.”
The fact that the event was a concert with popular bands was certainly a draw for the SDS members, Chaney says, and he acknowledges that some members came simply for the musical entertainment. He says he is interested in potentially perusing more traditional rallies and events, but most likely with other candidates.
“I don’t know if we [SDS] want to keep investing time in one candidate,” Chaney says.
Chaney says the SDS members also plan to bring political participation back to Truman with them.
“We’re going to register people to vote, hopefully with the College Republicans and Democrats,” Chaney says. “Registering [people] for the primaries and then the general election.”
Truman students can register to vote with the help of SDS and other campus organizations Feb. 9 through 11.