In an ideal world, college would be about nothing but drinking, "experimenting" with recreational drugs, and getting laid. Sadly, college is also where tomorrow's leaders are supposed to learn the skills to keep this crazy world from falling apart, which is why campuses have any number of political groups and causes that can give fresh-scrubbed moppets hands-on experience—experience with in-fighting, redundant bureaucracy, colossal disappointments, and occasional small victories. Of course, they're also great places to meet some hottie activists. (Most of these groups can be found at PSU, because [1] it's the biggest school around, and [2] Portland's other schools are enormously unorganized.)

PSU College Democrats

Portland State may be one of the few campuses in the country where the College Democrats group is too conservative for the student body. And that may be why their website has gone belly up. Email for more info.

PSU College Republicans

God bless the PSU College Republicans for holding onto beliefs that the rest of the country—and, obviously, 99.999 percent of their classmates—have ditched. They're still crowing about the pro-Bush counter-protest they held downtown after the 2004 election! More info and laughs:

International Socialist Organization

Now this is what I'm talking about! Dreads, Bob Marley posters, Sí se puede, spending your trust fund on a trip to Caracas to organize factory workers, quoting Karl Marx, No Blood for Oil, being unemployed but chanting for workers to unite, etc. Recommended if you like Manu Chao. P.S. This is where the cute girls are. More info:

NARAL PSU Students for Choice

Obviously, reproductive choices and information are vital in college—unless there's something horribly wrong with you, you're never going to get as much action as you will during these four years. The PSU student chapter of NARAL is dedicated to fighting for students' reproductive rights—because college life should be pregnant with possibilities, not unwanted fetuses. Email


The Oregon Student Public Interest research Group does a lot of things: Fights to lower the costs of textbooks, limit global warming, end poverty, protect consumers, etc. But what they do best is stand on campus and guilt you into signing up for their campaigns. Solid training for a life in politics. Hit for info.

Students for a Democratic Society

That's right—those hellraisers from the 1960s are back, and they can be found on both the Reed and Lewis & Clark campuses. Not surprisingly, they're taking on the Iraq War this time around, via all manner of protests. But if you want to get in contact with them? Apparently, they'll find you. A lack of any central leadership means the group is democratic above all else, but it also makes it extremely difficult to get a single answer out of them. Hit for more.

Queers and Allies

Not surprisingly, PSU's Queers and Allies club looks like one of the most fun organizations on campus, what with trips to the beach and the fabulous Queer Prom. It's housed in the Queer Resource Center, which is described as an "inclusive safe space." Take that, College Republicans! Hit for more.