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The student news site of Allegheny College

The Campus

The student news site of Allegheny College

The Campus

Wake up, Allegheny

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Wake up and stand up. This is the slogan of The Coffee Party, a national movement that has recently made its way to Allegheny with the help of Steven Jones, ’12, President of the College Democrats, in the form of a brand–new student group.

The Coffee Party is an organization founded by Annabel Park as a diverse, grassroots group that advocates “a society in which democracy is treated as a sacrosanct and ordinary citizens participate out of a sense of civic duty, civic pride, and a desire to contribute to society,” according to the Party’s Web site.
When Jones heard about The Coffee Party during winter break, he found that he could easily relate to the politics practiced by the group.

“Even though I’m president of the College Dems, I consider myself more center left,” Jones said. “I’m more into compromise than being a proactive liberal.”

This spirit of compromise and discussion is promoted in The Coffee Party, as evidenced by the Civility Pledge that all new members must make, testifying that they will conduct themselves in a way that “is civil, honest and respectful towards people” with whom they disagree. Members also pledge to value different opinions and cherish the democratic process.

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“It just makes sense,” said Chris Plano, ’12, a board member of the College Democrats and a supporter of The Coffee Party. “We’re going to try to work together and form compromises between people of opposing viewpoints to actually get stuff done. I think that’s what people need to see in our government.”

Students from colleges across the nation have joined this movement and have shown their support for the new political party through Campus Coffee Week, April 17 to 25, during which The Coffee Party called on “student leaders to contribute to a new grassroots movement that seeks to protect the democratic process by encouraging greater participation across political, ethnic, and generational divides,” according to the Party Web site.
Campus Coffee Week is what inspired Jones to bring The Coffee Party to Allegheny.

“I thought, Allegheny’s pretty politically active, so why not see what we can get with it?” Jones said.

Jones has many Plans for Allegheny’s Coffee Party; he intends to create a student group that will eventually expand into the surrounding community.
“[I want to] get more community-based, because that’s what I think the Coffee Party’s supposed to be,” Jones said. “It’s about everybody going together, not just students but people in the town.”

Plano agreed.

“We certainly want to make this not just a campus group, but also include the residents of Meadville and also the surrounding area,” he said. “It kind of bridges that generational gap, the situational gap, you know, all kinds of things where we can get a lot of different viewpoints together in one place.”
Jones hopes to hold meetings with people from both the college and the community in Meadville coffee houses   such as The Artist’s Cup Café as opposed to in Grounds for Change, to support relations between college and community members.

“The community is always invited and we’re looking at ways to expand into the community and not seem as a college campus project,” said Erin Shipley, ’12, another member of the College Democrats.

The Allegheny Coffee Party also hopes to bridge the gap between political groups on campus.

“I’d love to see it foster dialogue,” Plano said. “Instead of just having the same College Democrats, College Republicans debate, let’s try to maybe work through those and find places where we could compromise, where we could maybe advocate for a policy.”

Shipley shared similar sentiments.
“The entire concept is about civility reaching across different parties and into different sects that obviously exist within the parties,” she said. “There are people who are conservative, liberal, socialist, whatever, and everyone is welcome. The concept is civic engagement through civility.”
The new group also hopes to eventually gain enough influence that its voice can be heard by representatives and government officials such as Meadville’s mayor, according to Jones.

But while Allegheny’s Coffee Party dreams big, the group is still very green.
“It’s hard to say just where I want it to go right now because it’s such a budding idea,” said Jones.

The attendance of their meeting, which was scheduled for last Saturday, was low – of the nine people that showed interest in attending, only one showed up, according to Jones.

Plano said that bad timing was to blame for the low attendance rate.

“The end of the semester’s here and we’re all busy writing papers and doing finals, so maybe people are just to busy at the moment to think that far ahead,” he said.

However, he remains optimistic about the success of the Coffee Party next year.

“Hopefully maybe we’ll have some meetings in the fall and get some more energy surrounding it,” he said.

Jones, who is also confident about the group’s future, plans to use this summer to visit Coffee Party groups in his hometown, learning how they are organized. He also plans on getting more students, particularly incoming freshman, involved via Facebook.

“We hope to come back in the fall and have it going a little bit stronger,” Shipley said. “You’ll be seeing more published events, you’ll be seeing larger, more publicized events, Facebook invitations, things of that nature to publicize those kinds of things.”

Students who want to get involved with the Coffee Party can join the Facebook group “Allegheny Coffee Party.” Students who become members of Allegheny’s Coffee Party are not automatically members of the national Coffee party.

To learn more about the Coffee Party’s values and to become a member, visit There are no membership fees, but donations are encouraged.

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    Steven JonesApr 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I greatly encourage all students interested in being apart of this movement to join our Facebook group and to email me personally. I will be studying abroad in China next Spring, and to keep this group strong, we will need student leaders to organize and maintain the group.