Students Plan Involvement in 2016 Elections

As the early field of candidates for the 2016 presidential election takes shape, Harvard undergraduates say they are looking to engage with the upcoming race through political groups on campus and internships on campaigns.

Students involved in the Institute of Politics and political groups such as the Harvard College Democrats and the Harvard Republican Club said that they plan to connect their members to the election through internships and other programming.

Earlier this semester, the IOP launched the Campaigns and Advocacy Program, a weekly seminar running for eight weeks intended to teach Harvard undergraduates the skills necessary to work on a political campaign.

R. Blake Paterson ’17, the program’s chair, said that the program was created in anticipation of the upcoming elections. Paterson, who is currently comping the Crimson news board, said he hopes the program will serve as a basis for students’ independent involvement in the election.

“CAP has been working a lot with the internship side of the IOP and connecting students with campaign opportunities on both sides of the aisle,” he said.


Paterson added that one of the program’s advisors this semester, Mike Vlacich, will be running Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign in New Hampshire.

Harvard College Democrats president Jacob R. Carrel ’16 said that although the group will not officially endorse any candidate during the primary, members will be engaged throughout the election.

“We have a lot of contacts that can put people on campaigns, and that’s something we’re excited about and love to do,” said Carrel.

Victor J. Kamenker ’17, the Harvard Republican Club’s membership and publicity director, said that their group will also connect its members to candidates.

“I know that we’re planning on working with the IOP and with past fellows with whom we have connections to get our members who are interested working on campaigns next year,” Kamenker said.

One Harvard student planning to work directly on a campaign is Daniel R. Ki ’15, who said he hopes to work for a Democratic candidate after graduating in May.

“The timing of my graduation is really perfect. The campaign is just starting to heat up…Being able to build infrastructure right from the beginning is really exciting, and it would mean that if I wanted to, I could stay on the campaign for the next year and a half and really get a substantive experience from it,” he said.

For her part, Jenny Gao ’16, communications director of the IOP’s Student Advisory Committee, said she thinks having students engaged in this presidential election is important. 

"It’s incredibly important that as we move forward, young people continue to stay active in civics in general, so that they have a voice and so that the decisions that are being made on their behalf are actually the decisions they want to see made,” she said.


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