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June 13, 2011 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-06-13

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Monday, June 13, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Students demonstrate political support
by volunteering for electoral campaigns

Desire to see change
prompts political
activism for 2012
presidential election
Daily StaffReporter
While the idea of long hours
of work for no pay isn't enticing
for many individuals, University
students who sayithey are driven
by their faith in America's politi-
cal institutions to improve the
country are readily volunteering
in electoral politics.
Members of the University
community said students play a
pivotal role in shaping politics
through both voting and actively
participating in elections, and
that student involvement will
continue to be important in the
upcoming 2012 presidential elec-
Edie Goldenberg, professor of
political science and public pol-
icy, said as campaigning for the
2012 presidential election begins,
college students will prove to be
instrumental in assisting the can-
didates in garnering support.
"Students are valuable as
presidential campaign volunteers
because they have time, energy
and will work for free," Golden-
berg said.
According to Michael
Heaney, assistant professor of

organizational studies and politi-
cal science, politicians often look
toward college campuses for
volunteers and voters because
students are already in a central
location and are often organized
according to political beliefs.
"One reason why students
are sought after is because there
are some strategies that can be
pursued to go after them, which
is you can target them on par-
ticular campuses," Heaney said.
"You have student groups that
have been organized around pro-
moting one candidate or anoth-
Heaney said he believes the
major point of contention during
the 2012 presidential campaign
will be the economy, adding that
the state of economic affairs lead-
ing up to election day will play a
large role in determining voter
sentiment toward incumbent
United States President Barack
"If the economy really picks
up steam and you see a lot of eco-
nomic growth between now and
the next summer, then you are
going to see a strong likelihood
of Obama getting re-elected,"
Heaney said. "If you have any
kind of increasing unemploy-
ment or any kind of downturn,
then that provides a really strong
opportunity for a Republican pick
Amanda Caldwell, chair of
the University's chapter of the
College Democrats, said she

believes students volunteer for
political campaigns because
they are passionate about the
"I volunteer because I believe
in the power of the political sys-
tem to build a more just, compas-
sionate, and sustainable nation,"
she said. "It is important to
remember that our elected offi-
cials not only shape our future,
but also reflect on who we are as
a society."
Anton Dirnberger, secretary
of the University's chapter of
the College Republicans, echoed
Caldwell's sentiment that student
volunteers donate their time out
of a strong belief in the parties
and campaigns rather than for a
personal career boost.
"Campaign volunteers that
come from the University of
Michigan College Republicans
are most assuredly not just look-
ing for a resume booster," Dirn-
berger said. "They understand
the effect our government has on
our everyday life and know how
vital their participation is to see-
ing the results they want."
Caldwell added that stu-
dent volunteers who don't wish
to practice electoral politics as
a career still see the effect that
politics can have on their chosen
career path.
"Many of our volunteers are,
for example, pre-med or in a pro-
gram for the environment who do
not plan on going into politics, but
volunteer because they support

the Democratic Party on health
care and environmental policy,
respectively," Caldwell said.
Dirnberger added that stu-
dent volunteers are often valued
for the unique skills they offer
campaigns, particularly in tech-
nical areas such as social net-
"Students are key to presiden-
tial campaigns because they are
extremely motivated, educated
individuals that can appeal to
other younger voters," Dirnberg-
er said. "This is huge, especially
on the grassroots level of cam-
Despite the importance stu-
dents have shown to have in elec-
tions, Goldenberg said it has been
speculated there will be a decline
in student participation and vot-
ing in the upcoming presidential
election in comparison to the
2008 presidential elections.
"I wouldn't be surprised to
see (turnout) lower than in '08
when Obamas 'change' message
generated a lot of excitement,"
Goldenberg said.
However student volunteers
with College Democrats and Col-
lege Republicans said they are not
expecting any decline in student
participation for the upcoming
Both Dirnberger and Caldwell
said they don't believe Obama has
not lost the youth appeal that
made students favor him heavily
in the 2008 election.
"We are not expecting to see a
decline in either student partici-
pation as volunteers or voters,"
Caldwell said. "Obama continues
to energize students."
Dirnberger added he thinks
the actions of the Obama admin-
istration will lead to even more
student involvement from the
College Republicans.
"While others may be expect-
ing a decline in student participa-
tion, the College Republicans at
the University of Michigan are
most definitely not," Dirnberger
said. "President Obama and the
Democrats' policies have been
our most effective recruiting
tools. Our membership has sky-
rocketed since 2008 and contin-
ues to grow. I know for certain
that college Republicans are very
anxious for 2012."

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