Wellesley students aid political campaigns in pre-election push
Students spend final weeks of campaign season working for Obama, Warren, Kennedy, Brown
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 21:10
As the 2012 election season nears its end, Wellesley students involved in political campaigns are making a final push to raise awareness about their candidates. Students from a variety of majors and class years have worked on congressional, senatorial and presidential campaigns throughout the semester.
College Democrats are focusing their efforts on three main races—Elizabeth Warren’s Senate campaign, Joseph P. Kennedy III’s congressional campaign and President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Meanwhile, College Republicans are mainly concentrating on Senator Scott Brown’s congressional re-election campaign. In addition to volunteer work, some students are finishing internships at campaign offices and others are working for official Wellesley College branches of a specific campaigns.
On the Democratic side, Wellesley’s Obama for America supporters are very active on campus. The group’s main objectives have been to send canvassers to New Hampshire, register voters, recruit volunteers for the Democratic National Convention party on campus, sell Obama merchandise and bring speakers to Wellesley. The group recently sent 17 students to New Hampshire to register voters, speak about Obama’s policies and make sure elderly voters can get to the polls on Election Day. They also brought the director of Massachusetts for Obama to speak with volunteers on campus.
Tanekwah Hinds ’15 started as a Wellesley for Obama orientation leader, and began the semester by encouraging first-years to take an interest in the Obama campaign. Now, Hinds is helping to organize the group’s trips to New Hampshire. She says she enjoys knocking on doors, as it allows her the opportunity to talk to many people, even when their political views differ from her own.
“I was able to have an educated conversation with a couple voting for Romney,” she said. “We mostly talked about how the country is so partisan now.”
Hannah Lindow ’16 began working for Obama for America before she came to Wellesley, as a summer fellow in Michigan. She now works closely with Massachusetts for Obama as a campus fellow by recruiting new students for the campaign and talking to voters. Along with Hinds, Lindow also plays an active role in organizing canvassing trips to New Hampshire.
“Every person you’re talking to is one person closer to the 7,211 votes that we were away from winning New Hampshire in the 2000 election,” she said.
Lindow also mentioned stories about contention between the Obama and Warren campaigns, prevalent on many college campuses, though minimal at Wellesley. While the Obama campaign encourages Massachusetts college students to vote in their home states because Massachusetts is projected to go for Obama, the Warren campaign wants liberal college students to vote in Massachusetts to potentially help decide a tight Senate race.
“There’s a huge push to register college students as Massachusetts voters [to help the Warren campaign] regardless of whether or not they’re from a battleground state,” Lindow said.
The Warren campaign is also very active on campus, and students are engaged in the campaign both at Wellesley and at official campaign offices. Students have organized debate-watching parties and phone banks in an effort to help Warren unseat the incumbent senator, Republican Scott Brown. In 2010, Brown won the election to fill the seat once held by the late Edward M. Kennedy. His seat is heavily targeted by Democrats this election cycle.
Most recently, the Warren campaign at Wellesley brought Sandra Fluke to deliver a stump speech on campus for Warren. Fluke gained national attention when she testified before Congress about insurance coverage for birth control, and was later labeled a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh apologized, but Fluke rejected his apology by arguing that Limbaugh was trying to silence those who believed women deserved affordable contraception.
“One of the great things about having her come is that she is so adamant about women’s issues,” College Democrats Vice President Katherine Leung ’14 said.
While the Wellesley for Elizabeth Warren team has worked to draw attention to Warren on campus, some students are directly involved with her campaign. Rebecca Straley ’14 works up to 13 hours a day, seven days a week as deputy director of scheduling for the Warren campaign. She began as an intern in the spring and summer, and decided to take the fall semester off from school in order to work full time at Warren’s Somerville campaign headquarters. As deputy director of scheduling, Straley handles Warren’s event requests and manages the schedule of Warren’s husband, Bruce Mann.
“I took the semester off because of the amazing opportunity to help Elizabeth. This election is one of the most important elections in the country,” she said. “I love scheduling because it’s given me a full perspective of the campaign. Before joining the campaign, I knew that I wanted to work in politics. This experience has just confirmed that for me.”
The College Republicans have been turning out volunteers to work with the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans and Students for Scott Brown. They’re planning to send a number of Wellesley students to Scott Brown’s Framingham office to help with the final major deployment weekend for Brown this Saturday and Sunday. They also hope to do phone banking for Sean Bielat.
Outside of the College Republicans, students are also interning for Brown. College Republicans Treasurer Katharine Kadlick ’15 began volunteering for Brown’s campaign in the spring because she was required to do volunteer work as part of her American Politics class. She turned this into a summer internship at Brown’s Boston campaign office, and now works remotely for about five hours a week. She is in charge of coordinating volunteer schedules and calling people to remind them when they have signed up to volunteer at the office.