by GRACE BURLEIGH '17
The Democratic and Republican parties aren’t the only ones who’ve been campaigning for votes this fall. Seniors of SUA participated in the Senior Campaign Project, which mandates each student work at least 6 hours for her preferred political candidate, party or issue.
Ms. Mollaun ‘88, chair of The Academy’s history department, was in charge of organizing the project. “The purpose is for the seniors to hopefully garner an appreciation for political campaigning, for the role that [voting] students will play as citizens of the US. I believe it’s a very important civic duty, so my hope is that the students come out of the experience wanting to vote in every single election.”
Members of the class of 2017 volunteered for a variety of campaigns, such as the Preschool Promise issue, Anderson’s Issue 51, and Hamilton County Parks Tax Levy. Most students, though, chose to give hours to either a specific political candidate or party.
“From my perception, the demographic for SUA students is more heavily Republican than Democratic,” notes Ms. Mollaun. It’s no surprise, then, that campaigns for Republican candidates such as Senator Rob Portman, Congressman Brad Wenstrup, or the Republican Party as a whole were popular choices for seniors.
Paige Finley ’17, for example, volunteered 9 hours for Judge Melissa Powers, a Republican running for judge of juvenile courts. Like many seniors, Paige went door to door and handed out flyers. “I was really nervous, but Bailey Cordill ’17 and I had a really uplifting moment when an elderly woman said, ‘Okay, I will vote for Judge Powers!’ after we gave her the flyer. It was great. We were actually doing something! We just gained Judge Powers another vote!”
Kate Ries ’17, who helped make phone calls for Senator Rob Portman, thought similarly. “The campaign project was a cool experience to take what we learn in a textbook and see it in action. It was really exciting to see Senator Portman win after being involved in his campaign.”
Indeed, now that seniors have completed--and in some cases exceeded-- their 6 hours of campaigning, the civic duty to vote has a sense of gravity for them. According to the small portion of the senior class able to vote earlier this month, the project made them more intentional in casting their ballots for the first time. Overall, the class of 2017 was grateful for the opportunity to have participated in political campaigning.
“I really liked the Senior Campaign Project! I enjoyed it so much that it didn’t even seem like a requirement” confirms Paige. “When I’m older, I’d like to be an economist, and you have to have a good understanding of politics to do that.”
Whether it’s as a future economist, politician, or working class American citizen, having a solid comprehension of politics is indispensable. In the case of the SUA senior, though, she receives not only the political information, but also the experience, thanks to Ms. Mollaun’s Senior Campaign Project.