Several Bowdoin students expanded the breadth of their political activism by working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign for reasons spanning from admiring Clinton as a candidate to Republican nominee Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric. Since the beginning of the semester, these students have supported the campaign by organizing and working at local phone banks, training volunteers, canvassing and identifying supporters.  

Amanda Bennett ’17 decided to take the semester off to work as field organizer for the first congressional district of Maine. 

“It’s just very easy for people, especially women of my generation, to be reminded that we do have a female candidate as a nominee for a major political party,” Bennett said. “I really admire her and I just decided that it was too big of an election to sit on the sidelines and not give it my ‘all’ and so I decided I wanted to take a semester off. 

As a field organizer, Bennett tries to convince Maine voters, specifically those outside the Democratic first congressional district, to cast their votes for Clinton on Election Day. 

Bennett also finds herself busy interacting with volunteers on a day-to-day basis for the Clinton campaign and encourages them to talk to neighbors in the second district about why Clinton is the best choice for the nation.  

“I think that one of my favorite parts [about working for the campaign] is interacting with the volunteers that come from all walks of life. There are some Bowdoin alums that I have met through this, and it’s just very cool to meet everyone and share the experience,” she said.

Brooke Bullington ’17 and Noah Salzman ’17 joined the campaign by applying for local volunteer positions with Hillary for America Fellows program, which was originally started by President Obama during 2008 election. 

“I am far more impressed with Hillary than I am afraid of Donald Trump,” Salzman said. “I think that we hear a ton of rhetoric around her experience but we don’t often consider what that experience looks like.  Basically since she’s started her career, she’s worked for children, for families, for people who have been marginalizedgroups like disabled individuals, women, and children.  And I think that is only a fraction of the experience that I admire about her.” 

Bullington said that working for the campaign has given her a greater sense of purpose. 

“I think especially that all of the really hateful things that Trump has said has really reassured me that what I’m doing is really important and meaningful and needs to be done,” Bullington said. 

Bullington and Salzman have been working between 15 and 20 hours per week, primarily at Democratic party offices in Brunswick, Bath and Portland. They also organized weekly phone banks at Bowdoin on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays. The last Bowdoin session they hosted was on October 27.  

Bullington and Salzman commented on how difficult it was to reel in engaged Bowdoin students to help with the phone banks.

“It’s been really frustrating for us, because, at least for me, I feel like this is just so important, and I think that there are a lot of people who really support Hillary but aren’t super willing to get involved,” Bullington said. 

Despite these challenges, all three students consider working for the campaign an enriching experience.

“You can see your impact very directly,” Salzman said.  “Even though not every single thing we do has a massive scale, we see volunteers come through the door, we get to talk to them, we get to hear about what issues matter to them, we get to train them.  Mobilizing people in such a concrete, tangible way I think has been so rewarding and something that I would definitely like to do again.”