by ZOE TREIBITZ
The room was packed the evening of Sept. 17 as the Iowa Caucus Project set up to present a powerpoint titled: “So You’re in Iowa, Now What?”
With pocket constitutions in one hand and free snacks in the other, students were given a step by step plan for how to get involved in Iowa politics.
“The Iowa Caucus Project is here because we’re trying to prove a point, and that point is that Drake University is the center of the political universe during a presidential election,” said senior staffer Kiley Roach.
She listed the two initiatives of the project to be to engage students and campus and to become a reputable source for on the ground information for Iowa politics.
Tuesday night, however, was all about engagement.
It started with step one: every student getting a voter registration form to fill out then and there.
One of the students of the project would be taking all the cards to turn in so that individuals wouldn’t have to find their way downtown.
This was just the first indication that this presentation would be less about the politics of the caucus and more about the opportunity they would provide.
Then the presentation began.
Step two: Join some clubs. The first idea that was pushed was to join groups on campus. Some of the ones mentioned were, of course, the Democrat and Republican student groups. Others like the Environmental Action League were referred to because of how involved they too can become in politics at this time of the political cycle.
Step three: Go to campaign events. They told everyone there that there are tons of rallies, house parties, town halls, all of which you could potentially meet political candidates or get close to the action. Plus, they said, people like Drake students and often give them a priority.
Step four: get an internship; it’s as easy as sending an email.
Step five: write and blog; you could get published.
Step six: watch your Drake email; you’ll get lots of opportunities.
Step seven: know your campus resources, including professors and admin with connections.
As each slide went by it, students weren’t learning about Iowa, or Iowa politics, or even much about the caucus itself. Students were learning that they can be a driving force behind the political climate at the school, in the state, and affect in the county at large.
Savannah Schaefer, a first-year student from outside of Iowa, shared her biggest takeaway from the event.
“I’m registered to vote now, which I wasn’t in any other state which means I’ll actually be able to vote for the first time,” Schaefer said.
She also said she’d definitely be attending political events on campus in the future despite not having any real interest in politics as a health science major.
And the message of the night was just that, step eight: Jump in.
Whoever you are, no matter your major, political leanings, interest in politics, being on campus at this time is full of opportunity. Show up to events of anyone you can hear, listen to those with whom you disagree, write and learn, and reflect. Try to take it in as much as you can.
Don’t forget to take pictures, the presenters warned, or no one from home will believe you are doing all of this in Iowa.