November 2, 2015

New RSO aims to advocate for a more transparent government

UChicago Common Cause (UCC) is a new organization on campus that advocates transparent, ethical, and reliable government.

A nonpartisan grassroots organization, UCC is part of Common Cause Illinois, an umbrella organization that seeks to enforce accountable democracy on local, state, and national levels. Currently, UCC is supporting a legislative push to establish a small-donor based public financing system throughout Illinois.

Small-donor based public financing matches typically multiplies small donations from individuals up to a certain monetary limit. UCC’s campaign to support this push will begin in early December.

Until the campaign’s launch, UCC will advocate the legislation on the UChicago campus; UCC will also advertise in Hyde Park and other communities within the Fifth Ward.

Third-year Ezer Smith founded UCC after interning this past summer for Common Cause Illinois in order to help the organization reach younger audiences.

Though he has not yet obtained RSO status for UCC, Smith began recruiting once he returned to campus. He reached out to individual undergraduates and other RSOs, including the UChicago Democrats and College Republicans.

Smith thinks the interest exhibited by the student body stems from the unique nature of UChicago Common Cause.

“The nonpartisan nature of what we’re doing is what sets us apart,” he said.

According to Smith, UCC is the only organization on campus whose focus is money, politics, and campaign finance reform, which Smith believes is crucial for democracy.  The UCC’s current efforts are directed toward the legislative push, but its long term focus, Smith says, will be to uphold the principles of democracy.

“UCC is about fixing a broken political system before it is too late,” Smith said. “We think the best way to go about that is to reach out to everyone we can with the hope that people of all ideological backgrounds will understand how important it is we solve the issue of money in politics.”

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