Senator Kamala Harris is making sure they get a jump start on organizing Iowa’s college students before they head off campus after spring semester ends. Her Iowa campaign is announcing today five “Camp Kamala” youth organizing training sessions, where students will learn about how to organize their communities, how the Iowa Caucus works, and what Harris would do for young Americans as president.
The trainings will be held at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Drake University, the University of Northern Iowa, and DMACC. They’re scheduled between April 16 and 18. Students, whether they’re currently supporting Harris or not, can sign up on the Harris website.
“Students and young people in Iowa are going to play a critical organizing role in the caucuses,” Harris said in a statement. “I hope you’ll join our team in April to learn more about the campaign and how to get involved.”
In a video announcing the training sessions, Harris mentions her goals of ending the student loan debt crisis and combatting climate change.
Activism on Iowa college campuses has been on the rise since Donald Trump’s election. Youth turnout spiked in 2018, spurred both by resistance to Trump and, in some areas, a chance to defeat Steve King. The student population at the University of Northern Iowa has steadily moved to the left in recent years, and they played an integral role in this month’s special election for a state senate seat there.
College Democrats activists like Danielle Templeton, a senior at UNI and recruitment director for the UNI Democrats, appreciate the efforts.
“It’s especially important for students who are in college right now,” she told Starting Line. “Some of us were in college during the 2016 primaries, but most of us were active in the 2018 election. If it shows anything about young people, it’s that they’re ready to leverage their power as voters.”
College students often make up important parts of any Iowa Caucus operation, both in organizing fellow students on campus and in filling intern and fellowship roles at local campaign offices. But it’s always important to start early, as campaigns that don’t begin organizing on campuses in April or May will have to wait several more months before students return in late August. With heightened interest in the 2020 presidential race, many may have decided on a candidate by then.
“Young people are paying attention and are watching for which candidates are making those moves and paying attention to us a constituency,” Templeton said.
While she and many of her fellow students don’t have a favorite candidate yet, Templeton notes there’s a lot of interest in candidates like Harris.
“I definitely think there is a buzz on the amount of qualified women in the field,” she said. “There’s a lot of diversity of ideas and life experiences, and I think it’s an exciting time to get to know the candidates and where they’re coming from.”
Harris’ campaign is hoping to get interested students involved in volunteer efforts over summer break.
“Our campaign is working to organize young Iowans who are the future of the country,” Harris’ state director Will Dubbs said. “I am proud that we will be able to utilize the excitement around Kamala’s campaign heading into the critical summer months.”
Teaching students about the caucus process will also be rather useful for the many young Iowans who haven’t been through the process before. Templeton was a fellow for Hillary Clinton’s caucus campaign in 2015, but most students haven’t had that experience yet.
“This year is completely different to the only other caucus I’ve bene a part of,” she said. “It’s different every time. That’s what makes it so exciting, that everyone is learning as they go and getting their voice heard.”
Interested students can apply for the training sessions up through April 13.
by Pat Rynard