NU4Bernie engages campus, Evanston through student-led organizing


Isabelle Sarraf/The Daily Northwestern

The student-run organization creates relationships that transcend the Northwestern campus.

Yonjoo Seo, Reporter

Northwestern Students for Bernie (NU4Bernie) organizes phone banks, canvasses in Evanston and hosts events that welcome anyone who wants to learn more about U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his plans to establish policies such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

In the midst of a bustling Norris University Center every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, NU4Bernie’s table turns heads, arrayed with an assortment of signs reading “Join the Movement” and “Phone Bank for Bernie Sanders,” in blue and red font.

NU4Bernie volunteer and McCormick senior Katherine Su said events such as the welcome kickoff and barnstorm, where the group gathers to strategize and socialize, mobilize people to foster support for Sanders among their friends and family, a main focus of the campaign.

The student-run organization creates relationships that transcend the Northwestern campus, encompassing the Evanston community, and encouraging collaboration among college campuses across the country, Su said.

Evanston residents of all ages canvass with the Northwestern students with the goal of identifying supporters and nonsupporters, talking with them and encouraging them to vote.

Social media also contributes to the organization’s growth, Su said. Bernie supporters on college campuses retweet and direct message one another to show support.

“The organization at the University of Illinois at Chicago even made and sent buttons to supporters on other campuses,” Su said.

Volunteers have different reasons for joining the organization, and contribute in ways that complement their abilities.

NU4Bernie volunteer and Weinberg sophomore Vanessa Obi said she joined the group because she believes structural change is needed to save the environment and curb inequality. Her ability to lift people’s spirits garners excitement during the events.

Isaac Larkin, Ph.D. student and NU4Bernie volunteer, said he felt encouraged by the other volunteers.

“There is a camaraderie that comes from having a shared vision, and it is inspiring to become friends with people who want the same better world that I do,” Larkin said.

The organization’s biweekly phone banks are centrally located on the ground floor of Norris so that people feel welcome to initiate conversation or get involved, Larkin said.

Ben Millstein, (Communication ‘12) said he saw the table while visiting campus for the first time in eight years. He talked with volunteers about the potential of the Green New Deal, which Sanders supports, to create jobs.

“This generation is probably more politically involved, aware and educated than mine was, and it is clear that they do not take democracy for granted,” Millstein said.

Larkin said there is a way for everyone to be involved with NU4Bernie.

Volunteers can canvass around campus or Evanston, phone or text bank or come out to events, among other opportunities that garner support for Sanders.

“Many people feel a lot of anxiety toward politics, but it is heartening to channel that nervous energy into talking to real people and sharing your story,” Larkin said. “Democracy does not just begin and end at your ballot. We have the power to control our lives, stand up and talk to our fellow Americans about what matters.”

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