XU students fuel local elections

PPP sophomores weather the final push during a tough election cycle

By chloe salveson, Staff Writer
Newswire Photo by Charlie Gstalder
PPP sophomores have been doing the grunt work for their political
internships, including placing down tons of yard signs to improve visibility.

In order to immerse themselves in the American political system, sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public students have the opportunity to volunteer in an electoral campaign internship in their fall semester. 

Dr. Timothy Brownlee, director of the program and associate professor of Philosophy described, “(The students) better understand the political system by engaging directly in it. We want students to have a concrete understanding of how political power actually works, rather than just a formal understanding of institutional design or principles, though they need to know those latter things, too!”

Daniel Kelley, a student intern for incumbent County Prosecutor Joe Deters elaborated. 

“We talk about American political thought, talk about real-world campaign practices and then get real-world experience in both. It covers both sides of the political world in such an interesting way which makes it really dynamic and intriguing,” he said.

Social distancing, masks, Zoom and hand sanitizer are each utilized to the fullest from week to week. 

Just as the rest of the world has limited face-to-face contact, campaigning has also obliged. Campaign strategies that may have been perceived as more effective in person are thriving digitally.

Kelley relayed the many changes that took place due to COVID-19: “I think that the experience has forced us to be more creative,” he said.

We may not be able to have as good of an understanding of certain face-to-face events like debates or fundraisers, but it has challenged us to think even harder about TV, social media and radio ads,” he said.

In spite of the adjustments the campaigns have made, students are still able to acquire a fulfilling educational experience.

Madeline Anderson, a student intern for U.S. Representative candidate Kate Schroder, “They’re working on campaigns, and they’re working to make a difference. Whether or not they agree with every single thing their politician has to say, they’re still out there. They’re still trying to improve the world outside Xavier.” 

Zach Mackenzie, a student intern for County Prosecutor candidate Fanon Rucker, gave an example that underlines how the election will impact the broader Xavier community and why students should be informed in local politics.

He stated, “Who our prosecutor is could affect you… Fanon wants to get rid of cash bail for nonviolent offenses. So let’s say you just own a lot of pot. You wouldn’t have to post cash bail, and you could stay out of jail for a little bit until your trial.”

Mackenzie added, “Also, it’s good to be civically engaged and just to care about your community… The safety of the community also affects the safety of Xavier.”

This is similar to Dr. Brownlee’s view: “I think that the program serves the local political community in at least an indirect way by cultivating active citizens who are politically involved and who care about the community as a whole.” 

He detailed, “Many of our students remain active in Cincinnati politics, both professionally and not, and I think that’s valuable for the community.”

While all Xavier students have faced challenges in regards to the pandemic, educational efforts have not been overlooked, including  the campaign experiences in the PPP program’s Power and the Politics Block.