Ohio State students get political education backing Trump, Clinton
In an office space tucked between a World of Beer and the Ugly Tuna Saloona, students from The Ohio State University are getting an education in grass roots political activism that could set them on a course for the rest of their lives.
Cassandra Chenoweth is on an iPhone. The first-year, political science major is shooting a video extolling the virtues of early voting.
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She’s just returned to the campus-area field office of Ohio Together, the coordinated campaign for the Ohio Democratic Party. Chenoweth just voted for Hillary Clinton for president and now wants her peers to do the same.
“She’s great, she has a lot of experience,” Chenoweth said of Clinton. “She stands for what I believe in.”
Chenoweth is a political novice but the stakes of this campaign have her looking to do more.
Across the street, and about three blocks down the road, Allie Geno spent an evening helping to host an Ohio Students for Trump debate watch party. Students wearing Trump-Pence shirts and Make America Great Again hats devoured pizza and soft drinks before cheering on Donald Trump in the final presidential debate.
Geno, first-year student from Columbus, Ohio is studying medicine. She is an intern for the Trump-Pence campaign. She was not involved in politics before. It’s the first election will vote in. Ohio Students for Trump is the first campaign where she says she feels involved.“I’m at the point where I can’t stop,” Geno said. “This campaign is my life at this point.”
Chenoweth and Geno are not alone, students across the Columbus campus have signed up new voters, hosted rallies and are getting out the vote. The work they’re doing today will shape their votes in the future.
“Previous research has shown that early adulthood is an especially ‘formative period’ for the development of life-long political preferences,” said Paul Beck, professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State. “This year appears to have such powerful formative currents – though they may push many in this generation away from partisan politics while it involves others.”
The campaign may end on election day, but student supporters say they plan stay involved after the last vote is counted.
“I’ve learned a lot about what it takes in the middle of an election to get people to vote,” Chenoweth said. “A lot of people aren’t too willing to get involved. Getting people excited about it is a big job.”
Nick Davis, president of the Ohio State chapter of Students for Trump, says the work is just getting started.
“If Trump gets elected, from then on out it’s all about supporting him and helping elect people who support him,” Davis, a third-year natural resources major, said. “If he doesn’t win, we need to stay strong, stay on campus and spread conservative ideals.”
Zach Varda plans on doing the same for the Clinton team. Varda has signed up students to vote and getting those students to the polls early. His passion won’t end on election day.
“I want to pursue a career in politics and just do everything I can to get involved publicly make sure everybody is getting the American dream I was so gratefully afforded,” said Varda, a second-year political science and journalism major.
Beck expects these experiences will last a lifetime.
“Those who get involved through their campaigns may be shaped indelibly by the political commitments they have made for the rest of their lives.”