The walls were plastered with Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign posters, “Clinton for President” stickers cluttered the tables, and even the desks were in the shape of an “H.”
At the first Boston College Students for Hillary meeting on Thursday night, organized by James Cody, MCAS ’16, and Frank DiMartino, MCAS ’17, students from several Boston schools met to discuss their student bodies’ efforts to support Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she runs for President of the United States in 2016.
Representatives from the Clinton campaign also spoke at the meeting about organizing events and beginning grassroot campaign efforts at the individual schools. Eden Tesfaye, an engagement organizer for the Clinton campaign, will be working closely with the different schools in the Boston area to plan future events.
“Boston College Students for Hillary will be an integral part of our campaign’s efforts to help mobilize supporters for the Massachusetts primary on March 1,” said Tyrone Gayle, spokesman for Hillary for America. “From her plans to make college more affordable to combating campus sexual assault to building an economy that works for everyone, this group will be on the front lines of sharing Hillary’s vision and agenda across the campus.”
Students also split into small groups to discuss organizing tactics and ways to convince undecided voters to vote for Clinton. The groups talked about how to develop their personal stories and use them in context to sway voters.
After working as interns on the national campaign this past summer, Cody and DiMartino connected to bring a Clinton student support group to BC. Originally DiMartino worked with the Office of Student Affairs to create a registered student organization, but BC has specific and tight regulations for political organizations that would take months to implement, DiMartino said.
”We’re not trying to speak for BC or put BC into any awkward positions,” DiMartino said. “We know that there are students on BC’s campus that support Hillary, students that don’t, but we want to make sure that there is an outlet for those who do support her. But we also want to make sure we respect the policies of the University.”
In order to quickly create an outlet for Clinton supporters, BC Students for Hillary joined as a subgroup of College Democrats of BC. College Democrats will sponsor the group to book rooms for meetings, fund refreshments for events, and schedule guest speakers. BC Students for Bernie and BC Students for O’Malley, other student-run political campaign groups on campus, also plan to work through the College Democrats of BC, Cody said.
As the president of College Democrats of Massachusetts, Cody plans to use the organization to connect the different groups around the city of Boston, including student groups at Harvard, Emerson, Boston University, Tufts, and several other local universities.
The group at BC will begin its campaign efforts by encouraging students to register to vote, developing support throughout the University, staffing phone banks, and canvassing throughout the Chestnut Hill area. The primary goal of the group, however, is to engage students in the presidential campaigns and help them to make educated decisions when it comes time to vote, DiMartino said.
”Whatever people end up choosing, in the end, we just want them to make an informed decision,” he said.
BC Students for Hillary is recruiting students to travel to New Hampshire on Oct. 10 to knock on doors for Hillary. The group hopes to continue similar trips along with other “get out the vote” efforts in the coming months.
”The goal is to engage students around the country at different campuses, both on the issues that matter to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but also to organize ‘get out the vote efforts’ for youth and college students,” DiMartino said.
College Democrats of Massachusetts brought roughly 120 to 160 students to New Hampshire for the Democratic convention, and this enthusiasm from young voters will make a significant difference in Clinton’s campaign, Cody said.
“That energy is palpable in the room,” he said. “When Hillary got up on stage, the crowd was loud and into it. A lot of that comes from us being younger, us being into it, and us being more engaged. We need to work to get our voices heard.”
Because the group is not an official organization at BC, leaders cannot spread flyers around campus, set up tables in the dining hall, or use other recruiting efforts similar to other groups on campus. Cody and DiMartino have put a strong emphasis on social media to spread awareness. They have created Facebook pages specific to both BC and the Boston-area schools.
“We want to organize students to go out and do events, whether it be registering voters on campus, doing different canvassing events in the city of Boston, or mobilizing to go up to New Hampshire for events,” DiMartino said.
Featured Image by Lucius Xuan / Heights Staff