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Students get involved with the Iowa Caucuses

Photo: Kristen Smith

The Iowa Caucus Project was started by Drake’s administration around the time of the 2008 caucus, and it continues today with the upcoming political events in Iowa. Developing a sense of engagement and allowing students to participate in public dialogue is the main goal of the ICP.

“Drake is opening the lines of communication by bringing candidates to campus and providing a space where public dialogue is acceptable,” Rachel Caufield said. Caufield is an associate professor of politics and international relations and the woman in charge of the Iowa Caucus Project.

According to Caufield, the ICP’s hope is to have every major Republican candidate on campus before caucus night. An invite has also been extended to President Barack Obama.

“As a campus we welcome any and all political viewpoints with the goal of promoting a public discourse,” Caufield said.

It’s not just about the politicians in the ICP, but about the Iowans involved. Caufield said the project is meant to highlight what’s unique about Iowa and is meant to portray the real “characters” of the caucuses, the voters. It’s about recognizing one’s role as a citizen and not having to look the part of a politico.

“There is no rational reason why Iowa is the first state the caucuses take place in,” Caufield said, “but we’re lucky it does.”

She also said that Iowa is a great place to start because of the intelligent and active population. Iowa contains a vast diversity of ideologies that the candidates can really engage with through voter conversations.

Iowans often do not take advantage of the great opportunity to gain knowledge about politics. It’s a chance to see history-in-the-making up close and a chance to create memories. ICP hopes to give students and Iowa citizens a place to go for caucus-related activities.

“It’s a campus-wide initiative to take advantage of the wonderful things that happen during caucus season,” Caufield said.

Matthew Sowden, a junior political Science and international relations student at Drake, got involved with an internship in ICP to make contacts and to gain a broader base of knowledge into Iowa politics.

“I hope to see a large spectrum of the political process in Iowa,” Sowden said. “It’s the best way to get the most insight.”

Three other students, seniors Ann Schnoebelen and Mary Bess Bolling and sophomore Kylie Rush, are also interns for ICP. The group attended the Tea Party of America’s “Restoring America” event last Saturday, its first group event of the season. Bolling also attended a Michele Bachmann event this year. These four students will bring news and photos to the ICP website.

The ICP website, iowacaucuses.drake.edu, will be updated throughout the caucus season to give people an idea about what caucus season is like throughout the state. Currently, the site hosts a link to the Des Moines Register calendar of caucus events as well as a link to the ICP Flickr page. Other website highlights include the “Stereotypes to Avoid” section and the featured “Politico Hotspots.” Internship opportunities will also be posted as the season continues.

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