Whitman Socialist Front gathers comrades


Keifer Nace

Rhett Butler, Brynn Louise, Bassel Jamali, Mark Blakeley

Sara Platnick

The Whitman Socialist Front hopes to bring about an egalitarian society and educate the campus about socialism. It took an important step towards one of those goals when it was ratified as a club by the Associated Students of Whitman College on Nov. 14.

The club’s two main purposes are to facilitate discussions about socialism and to incorporate socialist ideas into student activism around campus. Louise hopes that through collaboration with groups such as the Black Student Union (BSU) and Feminists Advocating for Change and Empowerment (FACE), the Socialist Front can make their goals a reality.

Whitman Socialist Front leader first year Brynn Louise’s interest in Socialism began their senior year of high school during an independent study project for social studies. Louis is a supporter of socialism and has enjoyed having conversations about it with their fellow hallmates.  Those conversations led them to create an ASWC recognized club that they hope will education student body and allow for collaboration on projects with other on-campus groups.

“I find it very relevant to current social and political situations, and so I’m starting the club because I want to find like-minded people, and activism is a huge part of socialism … so making this an ASWC-recognized club could help me to collaborate with other clubs on campus and socialist institutions elsewhere,” Louise said.

Louise hopes that through their efforts with the club, the Whitman community can learn to approach current issues in a different way.

“Mostly the discussions [around issues on campus and in Walla Walla] have been between Republicans and Democrats, but I think they should be including contending philosophies of all types,” Louise said.

Currently, fellow leaders and first-years Mark Blakeley, Bassel Jamali, and Rhett Butler are reading Karl Marx’s Capital to learn more about the philosophical roots and ideas behind Socialism.

Not all the members of the Whitman Socialist Front have accepted socialism as their ideological viewpoint. Many of the leaders see the club as an opportunity to learn more about the topic in general and see how they want it to fit into their lives, and the club meetings are open to people of all ideological backgrounds. A large part of the club’s purpose is to create discussions in which people can share their thoughts give insight into the ideas.

“[Socialism] is just a matter of looking at the world, it’s a viewpoint that’s often marginalized, especially here in America, not here at Whitman. And it’s just an interesting thing to consider, it’s a new way of thinking about the world around us, and so that’s the reason I’m participating in this club,” Jamali said.

Blakely became interested in the group after he began partaking in the discussions going on about Socialism with fellow students in his room.

“I just joined this club because [of] its interesting discussions. We’re talking about interesting ideas with some very interesting people,” Blakely said.

“I’m really interested in economics, I’ve done a lot of work with it and I plan to major in it, and so I think it’s a different perspective than what we’re learning in class, which is more capitalist. It’s a different perspective, and maybe I’ll enjoy it or maybe I won’t,” Butler said.

The club hopes to gain more members from all different ideas and philosophies, and they hope to start a new conversation on campus.

“Initially, I think a lot of the interest needs to be generated based on experiences in real life, because a not lot of people will have the same historical or philosophical interest that I do in Socialism, and so a lot of [it]…is going to be tapping into the anger that people feel based on hierarchical and oppressive structures,” Louise said.