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Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

ISU Dems cut ties with Iowa Democratic Party

Lee Chinyama
Iowa state capitol, located at 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319 on May, 3, 2023.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include comments from Erin Moynihan, who reached out on behalf of Wilburn. The Daily cleared up the verbiage in a sentence where “he” could have meant either Rep. Ross Wilburn or Cody Swank, and clarified a sentence that indicated that Wilburn expressed support for the clubs disaffiliation.

In addition, on Dec. 14, The Iowa State University College Democrats reversed their decision explained in this story. An updated version of the story can be read here.

The Iowa State University College Democrats formally disaffiliated with the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) on Thursday after party officials called for the resignation of three university Democrats at Iowa who signed a letter that in part stated, “We shamelessly and fully support Palestine.”

According to a news release from the Iowa State University College Democrats, the decision was made to maintain autonomy and because of the party’s treatment of the University of Iowa Democrats.

“It is essential for us to align ourselves with an organization that upholds the values of inclusivity, respect and fairness,” the release stated. “Furthermore, we question the need for the IDP to exert control over our club. The College Democrats at Iowa State University have always operated as an independent entity.”

The former Iowa State Democrats President and current Vice President Cody Swank said it was a quick but difficult decision.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate […] for our new party chair to say that about another club because we’re going to be next because we have the same views as the University of Iowa Democrats too,” Swank said.

If the Iowa Democratic Party attempts to form an affiliated club at Iowa State, Swank said that party’s chair Rita Hart can try “but she’s not going to get anywhere” because she does not have “internal voices.”

“We don’t want to have to think about what the state party is going to say about our posts or anything before we post it. It comes from our hearts and our voices from inside of our chapter, and that shouldn’t conflict with the state party,” Swank said.

Swank also said the club may undergo a name change to Iowa State Progressives because “Democrats kinda have a bad name, especially in Iowa.”

“May every Palestinian live long and free, from the river to the sea” is a phrase used in a letter written by the club. Hart said the phrase is an antisemitic slogan and called for the three officers of the club who signed the letter to resign.

“Let’s be very clear. That is a call for Jewish genocide and we wholly condemn that offensive language,” the statement read. “The Iowa Democratic Party stands with the innocent civilians, Israeli and Palestinian, that have had their lives ruined by the terrorist group Hamas.”

Swank said that everybody, including the state party, knows that the phrase was not used in an antisemitic sentiment and is used by both sides.

“Should we be micromanaged by the state party, who is quite frankly 40 plus years older than us, to have completely different views and ways of doing things?” Swank said. “So we just want to be on our own for the young. We’re the youth voices in Iowa.”

Additionally, Swank said Hart’s predecessor Iowa House Rep. Ross Wilburn, who represents Ames, offered support to the student organization. Wilburn expressed neither support or a lack thereof for the disaffiliation. Swank said he has been in contact with Hart, and added that they may meet in person in the coming days.

Erin Moynihan, who reached out on behalf of Wilburn, stated that “Representative Wilburn has not had any communication with the Iowa State Democrats regarding their decision, has not been in contact with Chair Hart and does not have a meeting set up with her,” in email communications with the Daily.

Iowa Republican Party Chair Jeff Kaufmann said “antisemitic loonies” are taking over the Iowa Democratic Party in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, alongside a screenshot of the letter.

“There’s being liberal and there’s being insane,” Kaufmann wrote. “UIowa Dems are siding with militantly anti-LGBT Hamas terrorists – who gleefully slaughter women and children.”

4th District Congressional Democratic candidate Ryan Melton posted a rebuke on multiple social media platforms of the decision to call for the resignation of the three University of Iowa students and said the statement from Hart does not represent him.

“Yes, it is very important to fight anti-Semitism, but per my read of the University Democrats at Iowa’s post, the statement wasn’t anti-Semitic,” Melton wrote. “We should also fight Islamophobia, and I don’t read the IDP statement last night as sufficiently meeting that obligation.”

Melton also said the Iowa Democratic Party should be “grateful for its student leaders,” and if there is a disagreement, they should engage in conversation and “accept the fact we are a big tent party.”

“This is another example of the IDP struggling to connect with its base and young voters, who consider human rights for all to be of the utmost importance,” Melton wrote. “I think it is improper to ask the student leaders for their resignation as the IDP is asking for, based on the Instagram statement of the Iowa campus Democrats.”

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  • B

    Benjamin | Nov 5, 2023 at 7:42 am

    I am surprised and disappointed the ISU College Democrats bunch of anti-Semitic college students who want to push the Jews out of Israel and presumably into a concentration camp somewhere.

    Hamas is the elected government of the Palestinians in the Gaza strip. They pay Hamas taxes which Hamas uses to build tunnels and bases beneath hospitals, strip water pipes to build rockets to shoot I toward Israeli civilians, and cause general chaos in the region. If the Palestinians don’t want the consequences of war with Israel, they should have made better decisions when they elected their leaders.

  • J

    John | Nov 3, 2023 at 3:01 pm

    A prime example of public school fail that students at either school can make a moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians

    • T

      Turkey | Nov 3, 2023 at 4:18 pm

      You mean israel and hamas. Palestine and hamas are not the same. And most Jewish friends of mine acknowledge this and also do NOT support Netanyahu.

  • W

    Wade | Nov 3, 2023 at 11:10 am

    Sorry folks. You can pontificate all you want, but the phrase “May Palestinians live long and free from the river to the sea” is basically saying “Get rid of the Jewish people and the Jewish state” You are supporting Hamas and antisemitism. Grow up.

    • I

      Iris | Nov 3, 2023 at 5:13 pm

      You grow up. Demanding basic human rights for Palestinians does not in any way suggest antisemitism. The land that is now ‘Israel’ was Palestinian land. By making that statement, you’re supporting 75 years of zionism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. Come back when you’re fully educated. Not just on the event of October 7th, but on the entire history that took place 75 years ago.

  • L

    Larry Thomas | Nov 3, 2023 at 6:21 am

    Poor misguided kiddies pretending they understand the situation.

    • J

      Jason Omundson '96 | Nov 3, 2023 at 11:35 am

      Condescending old fart pretending they understand the situation.