Sophomores create CMU Students for Kerry

With the end of the Republican National Convention, the 2004 election campaign has begun in earnest, and students across the country are becoming involved. Carnegie Mellon too has its share of students who have started their own political organizations.

Mike Shaw and Mark Caola, both sophomores at Carnegie Mellon, recently founded the campus organization called CMU Students for Kerry. Caola, a business major, says that they began by going to the Allegheny County Democratic Headquarters to search for volunteer opportunities. There, they met other students from local college campuses that were in support of John Kerry. Their interest in helping the Kerry campaign grew, and eventually they decided to begin their own organization at Carnegie Mellon. They founded it three weeks ago, and at present, their organization consists of 15 members. Thus far, most member signups have taken place next to the voter registration table at the University Center, but the group plans to hold some events to gather Kerry supporters in the near future.

They are, however, not alone. The upcoming events are planned through the recently-created Core College Leaders, a website that acts as the hub of communications between respective campus organizations. When it has grown more, says Pat Millham, a campus coordinator from Pennsylvania Victory 2004, it will serve as an online tool to coordinate college Kerry groups throughout Allegheny County. Core College Leaders currently networks five different Pittsburgh campuses: Duquesne University, Chatham College, the University of Pittsburgh, the Community College of Allegheny County, and Carnegie Mellon University.

Millham, who works to advise campus organizations such as CMU Students for Kerry, also helps get separate campuses to work together and volunteer. ?For every minute you complain about politics,? he often tells students, ?you should get involved.?

Indeed, according to Caola, the main objective of the organizations working through Core College Leaders is to get students involved. To do this, they have been canvassing neighborhoods and working to increase voter registration in Pennsylvania. According to a poll done by the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, only 6% of all voters remain undecided. Caola, though, believes that CMU Students for Kerry and Core College Leaders can make a huge impact by recruiting members. Pennsylvania?s status as a swing state means that college students from out of state can become a large pool of potential votes for any candidate.

CMU Students for Kerry and Core College Leaders not only work with voter registration but are also involved in community service. They have worked at soup kitchens, and they hope to volunteer more in the future. While doing service in Pittsburgh, students in Core College Leaders wear John Kerry shirts. Caola says that this ?represents what Kerry will do for the country: help out the little guy.? Students from Core College Leaders also volunteered some time with the Kerry team. At Kerry?s Pittsburgh speech in July, says Millham, they helped out by driving Kerry?s people from the airport as part of the motorcade.
When asked if CMU Students for Kerry has any plans for after the election, Caola said that it might blend into a different organization, or perhaps break up.