Student groups support presidential candidates
Madeline Buckley | Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Notre Dame’s College Democrats recently collaborated with other local schools to open a democratic campaign headquarters in South Bend, with the goal of helping elect Senator Obama in the November presidential election.
“We want to help elect Senator Obama and all the other candidates we are working for,” Notre Dame’s College Democrats president Spencer Howard said. “And in the broader scheme of things, [our goal] is to put the country on what we consider the right track.”
After months of raising money through various fundraisers and donations from South Bend residents, the office opened Thursday with an open house attended by a couple hundred interested students and members of the South Bend community, Howard said.
The Notre Dame College Democrats worked with Sean Dvorac and Caitlin Worm of the Indiana University of South (IUSB) Bend College Democrats to organize the office in town.
“We just met at the South Bend Chocolate Café and thought it would be cool to organize the College Democrats in the area, so we did it,” Howard said.
Howard, Dvorac and Worm’s collaboration became the Northern Indiana College Democrats, a group that now encompasses Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross, Ivy Tech and Bethel along with Notre Dame and IUSB, Howard said.
The Northern Indiana College Democrats wanted an office “so students from schools can campaign as well as have a college atmosphere to do homework and hang out with friends,” Howard said.
The office is located on Mishawaka Avenue in South Bend because the group did not want the headquarters to be centered on one school, Howard said.
“We are trying to make it so all the schools can come together and students from multiple colleges in the area can get to know each other,” he said. “What happens in this area affects all of us so we might as well come together.”
Volunteers will use the office to focus on campaigning in Saint Joseph County, Howard said. The leaders have lined up students to make phone calls to South Bend homes and go door to door, canvassing various neighborhoods, he said.
Along with campaigning for Obama, the Northern College Indiana Democrats also focus on local democratic candidates such as congressman Joe Donnelly, who is up for reelection and gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson, Howard said.
The primary aim of the collaboration of different schools in the office was to pool the resources of the different colleges in the area, Dvorac said.
“[Each school] has different strengths and weaknesses,” he said.
While many Notre Dame students come from different parts of the country, most IUSB students are local, Dvorac said.
This creates a strong group of students mixing “local color” with a national student body, he said.
Notre Dame sophomore Andrea Green, a volunteer in the office, said she is excited to be involved in the campaign because of previous campaign work she did on behalf of Hilary Clinton in the primaries.
“[Working on the Clinton Campaign] was a great experience,” she said.
This election is really exciting because students are becoming more interested in the election, Green said.
“We had our first [College Democrats] meeting of the year and had the biggest turnout with 93 people,” she said. “Students are getting more involved in this election and trying to become more informed about what is going on.”