STORY BY ANNA JENSEN
The state of Iowa is a political hub during election years. One of the perks of Drake University is its proximity to downtown Des Moines and all of the ways on- and off-campus to get involved in politics whether by interning, volunteering or just showing up as a spectator to events.
Already this year, several big names have visited the Des Moines area, and more will be on campus this November and early second semester.
On the weekend of Nov. 24, the Jefferson-Jackson dinner was held in Des Moines. There, many Drake students had the opportunity to be in the presence of Democratic frontrunners like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
If you have not seen the candidates yet and don’t know how to get involved, a wall all about politics-specifically, the caucuses-has gone up in Olmsted to the right of the coffee shop, just past the Student Life Center office.
“The Iowa Caucus Center is a one-shop-stop for students to get all their information regarding the caucuses and other general political information,” said Student Body Vice President Zachary Blevins. “Since (Drake) primarily attracts students from out of state, most of us have never caucused before and this is our way of getting the political conversation started.”
This wall has interactive information about the candidates and has spots for you to sign up and get involved, or even write your email down if you want more information about opportunities within Drake revolving around politics.
“There are three main sections to the wall,” Blevins said. “The first (would be) the computer in the center of the wall because students can surf the Iowa Caucus Project website, while the TV will be scrolling with additional information and will broadcast political events. (Second) is the pushpin poll, which is kind of a play off the corn poll that they do at the Iowa State Fair. The (third) one is the discussion wall. It is an easy way to get the students who aren’t heavily involved in politics to join in on the conversation.”
The point of the specific interactive parts of the wall was to get students involved with the caucuses, but also to mimic the way the caucuses run, because they are very involved and interactive.
“I like looking at the pushpin wall and seeing where each candidate stands among Drake students,” said first-year Liz Bregenzer. “It’s interesting to see which way people are planning to caucus, even though it is anonymous.”
“(The push pin poll) allows students whether they are Democratic, Republican or Independent to show who they are supporting,” said Blevins. “In a way, we are getting a poll, a very unscientific poll, but one that is directly focused on where students are looking. If you try to look at national data polling, it is just collective data; there is nothing that is really looking directly at students and seeing who is catching fire with them.”
The wall was put up in Olmsted in hopes that students would acknowledge it when they were walking by or getting their coffee.
“Olmsted is a high traffic area for the whole student body, whether you live on- or off- campus,” said Blevins.
“The wall is not necessarily something I would take time out of my day to go look at, but the information is large and clear and I have read it while waiting in line for my coffee,” said first-year Hanna Friedrich. “I think that was more of the point and one that they accomplished well.”
The Iowa Caucus Center was made to help students learn more about the caucuses and show them that it does not take much effort to get involved.
“The wall is a starting point to get a political dialogue going across campus,” Blevins said. “The Iowa Caucus process is affecting campus and will continue to affect us until they happen, and it is important for the student body to utilize it as an academic experience they might only get once in their lifetime.”