by Logan Meyer, news staff
In the heat of an election cycle, political opinions often come to the forefront of conversations. At Northeastern, some students take that involvement a step further by volunteering for presidential candidates’ campaigns.
Freshman combined computer science and criminal justice major Nafisa Kabir volunteers with the Donald J. Trump campaign in Manchester, New Hampshire. She canvasses with other volunteers in New Hampshire and organizes trips to Trump rallies and other events for the campaign. Kabir, as someone who is not a citizen, does not have the ability to vote in the upcoming election.
“I don’t get my citizenship until December of this year,” said Kabir, a citizen of Bangladesh. “Because I can’t vote, I put all my energy into getting other people to go out and vote. I’ve even offered to pay for transportation for people who can’t get out and vote. It’s really important to me that people do have a say in the democratic process and that they make the right choice, which in my opinion is Trump.”
Helen Sharma, a senior combined international affairs and anthropology major, volunteers with the Boston branch of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She began volunteering during the primary season by canvassing. Though she was asked to join by a recruiter and did not intentionally seek out the position, she said it has been a good experience.
“Working for this campaign has really shown me how deeply complicated it is,” Sharma said. “There are so many pieces and it’s so thoroughly complicated. I understand why the process seems so opaque to the people who don’t understand it.”
It’s primarily for this reason Sharma says people need to work for campaigns: To gain an understanding of the electoral system and how it works.
Freshman political science, philosophy and economics major Gabriel Morris works for the Clinton campaign as well, but in a different capacity than Sharma. Morris volunteers as a fall fellow, an organizing position within the Clinton campaign. Unlike Sharma, Morris actively sought out his position.
“I felt like I spent a lot of my time, especially in my senior year, arguing with people and I wanted to channel all of that energy into something more concrete,” Morris said. “I applied and now I’m an organizer. It’s my job to meet with [volunteers] and build a foundation with them.”
Morris volunteers largely because of his passion for Clinton as a candidate, but also for his interest in politics. He said he believes we need a more bipartisan system, one which works with and for people to truly make the country better.
“We all want a better country, we all want more opportunities for everybody. We just have really, really different ideas about how we get there,” Morris said. “Sometimes people think we want different things. I think we sometimes need to step back and see what is the ultimate goal? We need to expand that and see what’s best for everyone.”
While some students found their voices in the political conversation during this election, others said they feel underrepresented by the two-party system. Ian Dobbins, a sophomore majoring in landscape architecture, said he lost interest in the Democratic party after this year’s Democratic National Convention in July.
At that point, Dobbins began to research the Green Party and the policies of their candidate Jill Stein. He now volunteers with the Stein campaign, tabling and handing out flyers to raise awareness of Stein as a potential candidate.
“Our generation has a lot of power but doesn’t use it because we aren’t involved,” Dobbins said. “More young people getting involved will bring power to our generation and attention to the issues which affect us.”
Despite differences in experiences and involvements, most of the students agreed they would campaign again in the future and suggested that others do the same.
“I would definitely recommend to other people to get involved,” Morris said. “I think that it teaches you a lot of communication skills and if you’re volunteering for a candidate that you’re passionate about, I think it gives you a huge sense of purpose. You’re a part of something larger than yourself.”
Kabir said that her passion for the democratic process played a large part in her decision to get involved with the Republican party’s campaign
“I found my voice in politics this election, and I like being involved,” Kabir said. “People should vote. This is a privilege that we have, the ability to actually go out and vote and actually have a say in your government.”
Photo courtesy Gabriel Morris