Kansas Students Campaign For Obama Across The Country

This story was written by Brenna Hawley, University Daily Kansan
Marc Langston walked up to the door, past the staring donkey. He knocked, but no one answered.

As Langston opened the door to stick a flier in, the donkey decided an unknown person should not be trying to enter his owners' house. When Langston realized the donkey was upset, he ran back to the car, the donkey chasing him.

Langston endured being followed by a donkey and three dog bites on his winter break trip to New Hampshire where he campaigned for presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"So many college students spend money on things that don't help other people," Langston said. "This helped and it was a life experience."

Langston was one of four members of KU Young Democrats who traveled to New Hampshire along with another student who went to Nevada to help with Obama's campaign.

Obama is the only presidential candidate who has an official student branch where students can get internships to help with campaigns. These internships and a newfound belief in a political campaign led these students to far-away states over break.

Langston, Wichita senior, flew north on Jan. 2 with fellow students Amanda Applegate, Wichita junior, Clarissa Unger, Colby junior, and Michael Gray, Buhler sophomore, all of whom paid for the week-long trip with their own money.

Once the group reached New Hampshire, Langston and Applegate were stationed together in a rural area near Exeter, N.H., while Unger and Gray were placed in two other towns around the state.

"I wasn't sure what to expect," Applegate said. "I've done a lot of campaigns and door-to-door work, but the rural area was different."

She and Langston phoned residents of the area and also went door-to-door. They encountered many college students, some of whom were new to politics.

"Students who usually campaign are politically-oriented," Langston said. "They're coming out of the woodwork to help us."

Unger was stationed in Derry, N.H., and worked with students from California, Washington, Mississippi, New York and many New England states. She said she was amazed with the number of students from all over the country, but credits it to Obama's appeal to young people.

"He listens to college students," Unger said. "He encourages them to get out and vote."

Gray was stationed in Londonderry, N.H., for most of the trip. Although Gray is passionate about politics, his future in medicine was another reason he decided to help campaign.

"My future career is going to be dictated by the next president," Gray said.

Meghan Daniels, Long Beach, Calif., sophomore, wanted to campaign in Iowa but couldn't because she was going home to California. Instead, she drove five hours to Las Vegas to intern with Obama's campaign.

Daniels, who wants to help with campaigns as her profession, saw helping with the campaign as a pre-cursor for her future career.

"I got a feel for how a campaign works," Daniels said. "I'd never worked longer than a 12-hour day before this."

College students such as these are changing the tides of this election, said Mary Christine Banwart, a professor of communications studies who specializes in political campaign communication.

"The interest college students have in this election is exciting and unprecedented for at least the past two decades," Banwart said.

Langston said that college students are disrupting normal politics and are the focus of this campaign.

"College students are making candidates who would normally win, lose," Langston said.

Unger said she feels Obama has the ability to unite and engage people who have never before been interested in politics, particularly college students.

"I never expected to ge this involved in this campaign," Unger said. "I feel like I owe it to Senator Obama. He seems very real to me, not like a normal politician."
© 2008 University Daily Kansan via U-WIRE