The Yale College Democrats traces its history all the way back to the late 1950s, when President Eisenhower was in the White House, NASA was just beginning its space program, and Yale was a decidedly homogenous place. From the start, the Dems, then known as the Yale College Young Democrats, engaged in elections work on the local, state, and national levels.
In the 1960s, the Dems worked to elect President Lyndon Johnson and other politicians, even if that meant breaking the rules. In 1966, when the Dems endorsed an independent candidate over the Democratic nominee, then president Alan Burdick told the Yale Daily News that the Dems "were not in the business of giving out rubber stamps".
After a lull in the 1970s, Dems returned on November 4, 1980. That night, a group of students trekked all the way to the Timothy Dwight common room to watch the presidential election results come in. Reagan beat Carter, and disappointed with Democratic losses, the students founded the Yale College Democrats the next day. The Dems sent hundreds of volunteers to local, state, and national races. The first president of this incarnation of Dems, Janet Stearns '84, became Ward 1 Alder. The Dems, advocating for Yale students' right to vote close to campus, pushed New Haven to create a student-centric Ward 1. At this time, the Dems had about 100 members.
Since then, the Dems have worked on a wide range of issues. We advocated for the university to divest from South African businesses during apartheid. We helped plan a 15,000 person rally on the New Haven Green for the 1992 Clinton campaign. Since 1983, we have supported Yale workers' right to unionize.
This is our history, and it is one that we are proud to continue. But our knowledge is not complete. If you were ever a Yale College Democrat in any capacity, we would love to hear from you with stories, information, and advice.