Students direct other students to the on-campus precinct on election day at the Fairfax campus. Photo by Alexis Glenn/Creative Services/George Mason University

Students Get Involved in Political Campaigns

VOLUNTEERS KNOCK ON DOORS FOR CANDIDATES IN GOVERNOR’S RACE 

By Olivia Booth, Staff Writer

With its proximity to Washington, D.C., George Mason attracts students with an interest in politics from all across the political spectrum. This election season saw many politically active students become involved in campaigns for Virginia’s next governor.

According to Eric Nielsen, the treasurer of the George Mason College Republicans and a volunteer for Ed Gillespie, working for a political campaign is a major time commitment but also immensely rewarding.

I had a unique opportunity,” Nielsen said, “because I got to experience field work, canvassing the community, and the data work that makes campaigns work efficiently and effectively.”

Canvassing, a campaign strategy of going door-to-door to talk with constituents in their own neighborhoods, is not without its trials and tribulations according to Nielsen. Partisanship and other tensions surrounding modern politics can impede citizens’ willingness to discuss their vote with campaign workers, or even just to have conversations with volunteers.

“Canvassing and door knocking can be challenging at times, especially in the modern political climate,” he observed. “But as long as you approach every house with a positive attitude and a smile, most people will at least speak with you, providing valuable insight into what matters to people the most.”

According to Nielsen, volunteering for a political campaign is not only a great way to get a feel for work in politics, but it is also a way to show support for your candidate. Nielsen says that he volunteered to support Gillespie for governor because “he supports lower taxes, a transportation plan to improve I-95, and has a positive vision for criminal justice reform.”

Getting involved in politics is a way for students to influence the issues that matter most to them. Student volunteers can vote for their chosen candidate in the upcoming election like any other citizen. However, campaign volunteers also have a unique opportunity to persuade potential voters to support their candidate.

“I believe that through active participation in campaigning, I can positively impact the most amount of people,” Nielsen concluded.

Volunteers from the George Mason Democrats were unavailable for comment.

Photo Courtesy of Mason Creative Services