On a campus that prides itself on political opportunities, this election season is a busy one for Drake students, many of whom are involved with campaigns or political organizations.
One of these students is senior Jackie Sayers, who has worked on campaigns in both Iowa and her home state of Kansas.
“I have been working as a fellow for Barbara Bollier’s U.S. Senate campaign in my home state of Kansas,” Sayers said. “I learned so much about so many different parts of campaign work from the fellowship with the Bollier campaign. As a finance fellow I learned how to do donor research, and then I had the opportunity to transition to the political department during the fall. As a political fellow, I have learned about the many local elected officials all throughout Kansas, and the different issues important in each area.”
Sayers’ experience with political campaigns began when she worked for Senator Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign after her sophomore year at Drake, and it left her with a passion for politics.
“I love working on campaigns and I plan to do so after I graduate from Drake,” Sayers said. “I loved all the cool people I met through the campaign work, and how energizing the environment was when everyone believed so much in a better vision for the future. I knew after that experience that campaign work and political activism was something I wanted to pursue for life.”
Sayers also serves as secretary for the Drake Democrats. According to Drake Democrats President Kody Craddick, the organization has offered students many ways to get involved during election season.
“We’ve been partnering with a couple different organizations democratically, voter organizations to do phone-banking, text-banking, letter writing campaigns,” Craddick said. “We’ve been heavily active in the state party, county party, and local campaigns, and we’ve been making sure that people have the information to vote and all the resources they need.”
Drake Democrats has also been hosting events with notable guest speakers.
“We’ve been hosting a couple different events on campus, primarily virtual,” Craddick said. “We had Congresswoman Axne on a few weeks ago to talk to her, we had Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield come and talk to our organization, we had an outdoor debate watch party on Helmick commons which was very well-attended, which was socially distant and had all the precautions but we were able to come together for that.”
Drake College Republicans has been engaged in similar activities, giving students the opportunity to volunteer for political campaigns they support.
“Drake College Republicans has worked hard throughout the election season to provide volunteers and part-time staffers door knocking, making phone calls and attending events to help Republican candidates up and down the ballot win on November 3,” Drake College Republicans Co-Chair John Altendorf said. “We have provided our members with resources to ensure Drake Republicans are prepared and show up to the ballot box and vote, utilizing every method — absentee, early voting in-person, and on election day.”
Altendorf has also been politically active outside of his organization, working directly with the Republican Party of Iowa.
“Currently, I am the communications assistant for the Republican Party of Iowa,” Altendorf said. “In this role, I assist in managing message strategy and rapid response for Iowa’s Republican House and Senate congressional candidates through social media, press releases and digital communication.”
According to Altendorf, it is important that young people use their voice and vote to help create the change they want to see in the country.
“Historically, young voters have very low turnout numbers on election day,” Altendorf said. “It is important that all young voters exercise their civic duty and make their voices heard. College students are active in the political process, but if they don’t vote their views won’t be addressed. To govern, you have to win elections and to win elections you have to vote.”
Sayers believes there has been increased political involvement among young people in this election year specifically.
“I do think people are getting more involved during this election cycle than in previous years,” Sayers said. “From what I’ve seen on social media, so many of my friends who I don’t normally think of as politically active or aware have been posting about voting and the need to get involved.”
According to Craddick, the environment of Drake helps foster political involvement among students, giving them opportunities they may not have had otherwise.
“As a very political campus, I think Drake has a front row seat to all the transformative things that are happening in American politics,” Craddick said. “I think that we’re involving ourselves in ways that many college students aren’t able to, and that comes across the entire political spectrum. I think that we’re really showing how we’re being heavily involved, we’re doing our part, and we’re pushing our way into the political conversation.”