Students gain community engagement campaigning for midterm candidates


Source: Hannah Brown

Junior Hannah Brown poses while campaigning for gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker.

Megan Munce, Reporter

Returning from a summer abroad with little knowledge of what she wanted to this school year, Medill junior Hannah Brown decided to apply to work on J.B. Pritzker’s gubernatorial campaign in Illinois.

Northwestern students from across the country have joined campaigns for Illinois candidates as Election Day approaches this month. Brown said this experience gives students the opportunity to apply the principles of governance they learn in class and internalize the importance of the political process.

“It’s really easy to be disconnected and to look at things in this kinda academic, cold, antiseptic setting when you’re a college student,” Brown said. “(Students) think that… it doesn’t directly affect me or my friends or anything that connects to me, but it totally does.”

For Weinberg sophomore Mara Kelly, volunteering with the organization NARAL Pro-Choice America gave her the chance to bring her passion for politics outside of the classroom.

Kelly is mainly campaigning for Democrat Sean Casten, taking on incumbent Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) in Illinois’ 6th district.

“It’s really easy for us to kind of stay in our bubble and forget about what’s going on around us,” Kelly said. “The reality is that we can all make time to go out and make a difference for these things.”

Medill freshman Anneliese Slamowitz said her role doing opposition research for Pritzker is a real world extension of her journalism classes.

Though she’s from New York, Slamowitz said she is voting in Illinois. She emphasized the importance of learning about politics in the Midwest, which she previously had little knowledge of.

“It is really important to give back to your local community,” Slamowitz said. “The gubernatorial race directly impacts the community that I will be living in for the next four years, if not longer.”

Slamowitz said monitoring press coverage of Pritzker and his opponent, incumbent Bruce Rauner, gave her the opportunity to explore the candidates’ platforms through a journalistic mindset as well.

Communication junior Rachael Packard, who serves as assistant to J.B. Pritzker’s deputy campaign manager, said it is crucial for students to become informed early on in order to form a better society.

“We are the people who are going to be in power in 10 to 15 years,” Packard said “If we don’t learn how to do that in a way that is inclusive and supportive of all communities…we’ll just keep repeating this cycle of exclusion.”

All four students plan to spend their Nov. 6 attending election night parties for their respective candidates.

Brown said getting to meet the people involved with campaigns, from the voters to the candidates, has informed her opinion of what an activist is.

“No matter what happens, I think that people are getting engaged,” said Brown. “They’re really getting out there and voting and doing something they believe in.”

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