Group builds political insight

Community Organizing and Political Action club highlights freedom of speech

By Reggie Santini, Advocate Staff

The Community Organizing and Political Action (COPA) club gives students a voice and puts them in charge of their political domain.

Contra Costa College COPA club President Alex W. Griffin said, “I want to get more people politically involved in what’s happening within their community.”

The club offers a safe environment for students, regardless of political opinion, who want to have a better understanding of how politics affects their lives.

The COPA club has multiple events planned for the upcoming semester to get students involved in the community and the upcoming election in November.

“Street Fight,” the Academy Award nominee film about running for office, will be shown as COPA club’s first event and will be followed by a panel of Richmond city council members who will answer student questions.

The event will be held at the General Education Building in room GE-225 on Friday.

Griffen said, “Part of the goal here at COPA club is to help students get politically educated.”

COPA is currently looking to fill two open officer positions — a secretary and Inter-Club Council representative.

To be eligible for these positions students must be enrolled in at least six units, have a grade point average of 2.0, and be available to attend executive community and general assembly meetings twice a month.

Standard student membership only requires students be enrolled in a minimum of three units.

“The students of COPA are the moving force of this club. It’s about your community and your political beliefs,” club adviser and political science department Chairperson Vanna Gonzales said.

Dr. Gonzales said helping students’ voices to be heard in the community is also a main focus for the COPA club.

An example of how politics can influence decisions is when students complained about a lack of dining options for students and faculty that were available last year.     

Gonzales said, “We help students get their message out so that change can happen.”

She said students cared that Subway was the only thing we had to eat on campus and their voices weren’t being listened to.

Fourteen students were present during the club’s first meeting on Sept. 1, not including the executive members Vice President Jose Arrebalo, ICC representative Emma Mink, Griffen and Dr. Gonzales.

Students were constantly commenting and asking questions on the club’s plans for the upcoming presidential election.

More questions were asked when Gonzales said that a vote drive will be held on campus.

Psychology major Annalise Velazco said, “I have always been interested in politics, especially during this election.

I heard the club is a good way to dip your feet in the political pool.”

Arrebalo said, “We want to teach club members how to respect, understand and debate all the political aspects.”

Mink said she has been part of COPA since the club started three years ago.

She said the biggest difficulty the club faces every semester is replenishing its members to remain as an active club.

“It makes it hard to build a strong foundation— I love the club and all the people that are involved in it. It’s a great community.”

The COPA club meets every third Thursday of the month in the GE-305 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. for students interested in joining.