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june 6, 2013

South alumnus Bill Humphrey ‘09 and current South junior Nathan Foster push toward social and environmental change through political activism By Nathaniel Bolter and Sasha Kuznetsova

photo courtesy of the public domain

Bill Humphrey South alumnus Bill Humphrey, who graduated in the class of 2009, was instrumental in the legalization of gay marriage in Delaware this spring. Humphrey founded a Political Action Committee (PAC) called the Delaware Right to Marry PAC, worked for a coalition called Equality Delaware Campaign for Marriage Equality and drafted some of the early legislation. Humphrey is also responsible for the name of the bill: the Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Act of 2013. The act passed Senate and was signed by Governor Jack Markell

part-time, Humphrey used his influence in college to raise awareness for the gay rights, raising money for the first poll on gay marriage in Delaware. Humphrey joined the Equality Delaware Campaign for Marriage Equality coalition in January 2012, and worked there until the bill was signed May 7. “We got it done, so that was pretty exciting — being in the legislature and watching those final votes and then seeing the governor sign it,” he said. Humphrey, graduating from the University of Delaware in just three years, has experience in national, state and city-

I hadn’t really been involved in the issue before that, but I definitely supported it and thought it would be a great learning opportunity both on the issue and in general in terms of getting campaign experience. on May 7. It will take effect July 1. Humphrey, who was the president of College Democrats at the University of Delaware where he majored in political science, said he created the Delaware Right to Marry PAC out of need for a project.“After the 2010 elections, [the College Democrats] needed some sort of project to work on, and of course for people in college in the United States right now, one of the most popular issues is marriage equality,” he said. “I hadn’t really been involved in the issue before that, but I definitely supported it and thought it would be a great learning opportunity both on the issue and in general in terms of getting campaign experience.” While running the committee

level campaigns and was recently hired as Assistant Editor at, an online publication regarding foreign policy, based in Washington D.C. He said, however, that his political interest stems from his time at South, where he spent three years as a Senator, one of those as Senate president. According to Humphrey his involvement with the marriage equality movement has provided learning opportunities not attainable in the classroom. “Something I’ve always wanted to do is to have the opportunity to see what I can do if there weren’t any restrictions or limitations on me,” he said. “Running my own PAC was a great opportunity to do that.”

photo by Yu-Ching Chang

Nathan Foster Throughout the past school year, junior Nathan Foster has collected signatures for a tax on carbon emissions, which he presented to the office of Representative Joe Kennedy earlier this May. Foster said he began this project in his American literature class as a required “Hero’s Journey” assignment, the purpose of which was to motivate students to pursue a specific interest in depth, according to Foster. Foster dedicated his project to political activism focusing specifically on climate change. “I feel very strongly about the issue of climate change,” Foster said. “I think it’s something that we’re not doing nearly enough about and it’s something that is going to be one of the most important issues of the 21st century for humans in general.” Foster also campaigned for Congressman Kennedy and Senator Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 elections and attended the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) national conference in Boston. According to Foster, this involvement in various social and political movements encouraged his petitioning. Although he has not reached his goal of 1000 signatures, Foster said he considers his progress to be substantial. “I have gotten 913 [signatures] —

which is very impressive. Not quite the goal, but I’m still very satisfied with that,” he said. In May, Foster contacted Kennedy’s office and presented his petition to an aid. According to Foster, the petition was the first the office had received and was met with a positive reaction. In response, Foster said he has been trying to initiate a meeting with Kennedy himself and has invited him to visit South in the future. Foster said that he hopes to improve the South community as well as greater society. “I hope that just the fact that I have been out there collecting signatures has made me marginally increase awareness of the issue of climate change in the South community,” Foster said. Despite his success, Foster said he is unsure about his next step in political activism. “I hope to continue political activism – maybe do another petition or something but I’m not really sure,” Foster said. “I just know that I am really interested and there are a lot of options.”