Most students come to Stanford with a set of ideals-- some sort of lofty belief to which they more or less try to cling in principle, Anton Zietsman 12 said. For me, it was public service.
While countless Stanford students express their political views by wearing shirts and pins and sending bumper stickers to each other on Facebook, that sentiment of public service has driven some students to drop their problem sets and literally take to the road.
By the end of high school, Zietsman, for instance, had decided that he wanted to get involved with politics in his community and determined that college was the perfect place to start.
His views changed, however, once the hectic first days of moving in and settling down into a routine had passed.
Most of the time, it consists of things that you are used to and therefore contains very little difference from your life before, he reflected. Nothing is more dangerous for your ideals. What I truly love about Stanford in this case is that it provided me with a way to breathe life into my beliefs, to materialize a once intangible goal.
And right now, Zietsman is in Nevada doing exactly that.
Seeing the opportunity to leave campus and campaign for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as a learning experience, Zietsman traveled to Las Vegas for five days and is planning to come back to campus Wednesday.
I value this experience as much, if not more, as any of my classes because it teaches me something new something real, Zietsman said. The Stanford Bubble can be very oppressive and this was an opportunity for me to have a larger impact beyond the red-tiled roofs.
Zietsman saw canvassing going door to door as the perfect outlet for his desire to be involved.
While canvassing, Ive been exposed to a great deal of people fervent Obama supporters, staid skeptics, staunch conservatives and even white supremacists, he said.
Peoples reactions toward the election still vary, and the greater part of Zietsmans job was to get the vote out, to remind people of the election and make sure they will turn up and vote today.
There seems to be a genuine appreciation for the effort we all put in, Zietsman said. Most of the time, people seemed grateful to see that I was out there knocking on doors. I guess we are seen as foot soldiers expendable yet vital in an ongoing war.
Andrew Ehrich 08, another first-time presidential campaigner, worked on canvassing as well.
I drove up to Vegas with a friend, and from there, we got in touch with the field organizers (people in charge of one small district), were given packets with addresses and went door to door, asking people if they were supporting Obama, he said.
What happened after proved to be eye-opening for him.
I was surprised by the sheer number of citizens who gave up their time and paycheck to be there, he said. It was such an experience to get out to a place where the economy is the biggest issue so many of these people were about to lose their homes to foreclosure. We are a little sheltered from the economic recession here at Stanford. We know about what is happening and we know why, but there are so few people on this campus where this issue really hits home.
Angelina Cardona 11, who works with Students for Obama, is yet another student whose passion extends beyond the clasp of a safety pin. She went to Philadelphia last spring for eight days during the primaries and has traveled to Reno twice this quarter with a group of other Stanford students. According to Cardona, Stanford has sent 134 students to Nevada, and many others have traveled all over the country to swing states.
I canvassed to remind people to vote and persuade them if they are an undecided voter, she said, explaining how the canvassers discuss the issues that matter most to the voter.
Why devote so much time on the road doing that?
I decided to go off campus and help with the campaign because I believe in Gandhis words that we have to be the change we wish to see in the world, Cardona said. We are living in history that will be read and discussed for all the years to come, and to have the opportunity to be a part of that history is an honor.
Regardless of a persons preference, as long as they have a reason for preferring a candidate, all I ask is that they go out to the polls and exercise the right to vote, she continued.
After all, Cardona noted, voting and fair elections are some of the principal components that make up a democracy.
When asked if she believed if her goal of getting people out to the polls has been accomplished, Cardona simply replied, I will see when the name of our next president is announced on Nov. 4.