Hoyas for Obama Prepare for 2012 Elections
Published: Friday, October 28, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2011 04:10
As November 2012 steadily approaches, student supporters of President Barack Obama are hoping to recreate the wave of student support that propelled him to the White House in 2008.
About 50 students gathered on Wednesday at the first interest meeting of Georgetown for Obama to discuss plans for the 2012 election.
Elizabeth Arias (COL '13), a fall fellow at Obama for America, recently reactivated the group, which had been on hiatus since 2008.
"Though it's still a year from the election, we want students to be more informed of Obama's policies and be excited and ready to cast their votes starting from now," she said.
The group aims to collaborate with the Georgetown University College Democrats to promote voter registration on campus and bolster support in Virginia, which has long been a swing state.
"Basically, we want to expand membership and make Georgetown for Obama a big presence on campus by 2012," Arias said.
On Nov. 5, Georgetown for Obama will join students from other D.C. area universities to knock on doors and start raising awareness as part of a Day of Action, said Melissa Miller (COL '12), previous field director and vice president of the College Democrats.
For Arias and Miller, who both work for Obama for America, Georgetown for Obama is an extension of years of political involvement. While Arias' focus is mainly on-campus coordination, Miller's work revolves around reaching out to possible volunteers and supporters in the neighborhood.
Miller's support for Obama started as early as her freshman year in high school, when she first volunteered on Obama's campaign for the U.S. Senate.
However, she said that her loyalty to the Democratic Party deepened during the summer before her freshman year. Miller recalled a trip to northern Virginia during the 2008 election, where she spent an evening putting up Obama posters.
"A man who was checking his garage saw us and came running out his house with a gun," she said. "We were so scared and quickly told him that we were just putting up posters for Obama. The guy laughed and said, ‘Obama? I love Obama!'"
Miller said her experiences that summer helped her realize her interest in politics.
"I was fired up and ready to go when I came to D.C., where all the crucial decision-makings are happening," she said.
For Jake Sticka (COL '13), vice president of the College Democrats, his summer spent working as an organizer for the Obama campaign in the Petworth, Brightwood and Wardford neighborhoods spurred his return to help run campaign efforts for Obama on-campus.
"I come from a working class family. I have seen how the economic policies in the Bush era led to the downfall of the American middle class," Sticka said, "It is clear that if we really want to have an American middle class, to provide everyone the opportunity to get the proper education and work, we need a more progressive policy."
Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS '13), president of the College Democrats, said that students in the College Democrats have traveled to Virginia, Maryland and even as far as to Georgia, Kentucky and West Virginia to campaign for the Democratic cause.
"This shows how much we're willing to support President Obama and stands as a testament to how dedicated we are to his policies and values," Kohnert-Yount said.
For the team, the advantages of being in D.C. and close to the national government are immeasurable.
"Each of us can be change makers and fight for what we believe in," Miller said.
According to Kohnert-Yount, Obama supports many initiatives that are important to her as a student, including the DREAM Act, federal financial aid and job creation.
"People might not consider themselves to be political, but they must realize their responsibility to make an informed decision for their own future," she said.
According to Kohnert-Yount and Arias, the College Democrats and Georgetown for Obama will be working closely with each other throughout the election season.
"We want more civic engagement among the student groups," Arias said. "Our primary goal will be getting students to care, think, volunteer and vote."