By: Lydia Rogers
Election Day is coming up, and the sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public (PPP) majors have been playing active roles in this season’s public campaigns.
Each fall, sophomore PPP students enrolled in the Mass Media & Politics course taught by Dr. Gene Beaupre and Constructing the Public course taught by Dr. John Fairfield must participate in campaigns for local candidates across the political spectrum.
“The fall campaigns course is arguably the defining experience of the PPP program,” Assistant to the Director of Government Relations Josh Sabo said. “(The students) become more informed citizens, preparing to be the leaders of a deeper political discourse and involvement in the context of their career in politics, business, law or work in the nonprofit sector.”
In the program, students are divided into teams and assigned to work with a candidate for the November election. Throughout the process, they are able to form relationships with their candidates and learn about Cincinnati’s political dynamics.
“The experience has been fun and very enlightening,” PPP student on the Greg Landsman for City Council campaign Jonathan Hogue said. “Prior to the campaign, I always thought local elections would be easy to run. This is not the case.”
These students have the chance to see the inner workings of what it takes to organize a campaign. A majority of the work students do relates to awareness. “Mostly the students volunteer on their nights and weekends to canvass, phone bank, put together yard signs and attend campaign events,” Assistant to the Director of Government Relations Colleen Reynolds said. This fieldwork complements the work done in class to build a comprehensive experience.
“For the class, we ask them to develop detailed campaign plans for their candidates focusing on voter turnout and field and media strategy requiring a greater understanding of ballot issues and local politics,” Reynolds said.
Not only does the program allow students to get a feel for the political sphere first hand, but it also provides the skills and opportunities to secure a job in the political field.
“Students learn about campaigns but also gain job experience, which is what really matters in the long run,” senior PPP major and Campaign Manager for the Quinlivan for City Council 2013 campaign Bailey Drexler said. “I was placed on City Council Member Laure Quinlivan’s campaign during my sophomore year PPP campaign class in 2011. As a result of that experience, I was hired then to act as her assistant campaign manager, and in November of last year, she asked me if I would run her 2013 campaign.”
The program also does a service to the off-campus community. “(Citizens) benefit by having access to intelligent and reliable volunteers and staff,” Sabo said. Through this experience, students are able to inform citizens about the importance of the electoral process.
“Some people I speak with don’t even know how many City Council members Cincinnati has or what their main responsibilities are,” Hogue said. “I see our work as beneficial because we’ve put out the word on important current political issues and have given new perspectives as to how Cincinnatians can engage local politics.”