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The College Repub­licans meet to prepare for the Day of Action. College Repub­licans Facebook | Courtesy

Hitting the pavement and talking to con­stituents can make or break political cam­paigns. But talking to voters isn’t just some­thing for public offi­cials. Vol­un­teers often are involved with dis­trict cam­paigning, including college stu­dents.

More than 15 Hillsdale College stu­dents joined in the Michigan Repub­lican Party’s Day of Action on Oct. 14. College Repub­lican stu­dents spent a couple of hours walking around to houses in the city of Hillsdale to take a survey about the political beliefs and con­cerns of the res­i­dents.

Junior Ross Hatley, pres­ident of Hillsdale College Repub­licans, had a hand in orga­nizing the Hillsdale Day of Action and said student vol­un­teers knocked on over 380 doors across the entire city.

“The primary focus was asking the com­munity what they thought were pressing issues on a national level, but also on a local level,” Hatley said. “This is really what College Repub­licans is about. Our mission statement is ‘Create, Connect, Change’: create events to connect Hillsdale College stu­dents to the political arena to change the country. An important part of that is not just the prin­ciples we learn in class but also just reaching out to the folks that are out there.”

Freshman Madeline Peltzer, who is on the board of trustees for College Repub­licans, said it is important for the College Repub­licans to stay con­nected with local and state pol­itics, espe­cially with the voters them­selves. One of the goals with the survey, she said, was to provide infor­mation to the Michigan GOP.

“We are part­nering with the Michigan Repub­lican Party to try to retain control of the House and Senate, which the Democrats are trying to get a majority in,” Peltzer said. “This poll was to try and get a sense of the demo­graphics of what the con­cerns are of Hillsdale County in par­ticular.”

Peltzer said the can­vassing was encour­aging because most people believe Michigan “is on the right track, espe­cially eco­nom­i­cally.”

Joe Weaver, Michigan GOP Regional Field Director for Southeast Michigan, was the state contact for Hillsdale’s College Repub­licans chapter.

“Ross Hatley and I worked together to build an oppor­tunity to boost local activism within the Hillsdale area gen­erally and within his chapter more specif­i­cally,” Weaver said. “We also wanted to better under­stand com­munity pri­or­ities as we move forward into the election cycle.”

The Day of Action, Weaver said, is a benefit for local com­mu­nities by cre­ating a method for cit­izens to voice con­cerns and opinions. It also allows stu­dents the ability to make a “pos­itive impact within their orga­ni­zation and the broader com­munity,” he said.

Hatley empha­sized the impor­tance of prac­ticing pol­itics outside of the classroom. Prac­ti­cality was a big part of the Day of Action.

“Being able to interact, that’s what the essence of pol­itics is, and that’s an ingre­dient you don’t nec­es­sarily get from the classroom,” he said. “Dis­trict walking, beating the pavement, and putting in hours shows that you know what you believe is right, and moreover, you’re willing to do some­thing. If we know what is right, we ought to be acting that way. Dis­trict walking really is the practice of pol­itics, on the local level espe­cially.”

Peltzer echoed some of Hatley’s thoughts on college stu­dents’ par­tic­i­pation with off-campus issues. Being from Arizona, she said the dis­trict can­vassing was good for her to begin getting an under­standing of Michigan pol­itics.

“Per­sonally, I think it’s really important as stu­dents to get out of the ‘college bubble’ some­times,” she said. “Hillsdale is won­derful, and I love it, and I love the people and the campus, but it’s easy to get stuck in our own world and not connect with real life, real fam­ilies, real issues. I think it’s really good for keeping per­spective.”

Weaver noted the impor­tance for stu­dents to have an under­standing of their com­mu­nities con­cerns.

“Under­standing the con­cerns of our com­mu­nities is critical for elec­tions on all fronts and at every level,” Weaver said. “Lis­tening, under­standing and edu­cating are all very important throughout the election cycle.”

The time com­mitment for stu­dents was rel­a­tively light, as they spent two hours walking around the neigh­bor­hoods in Hillsdale.

“Everybody was back in time for the football game,” Hatley said with a grin.

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Nolan Ryan
Nolan Ryan is a junior from northern Michigan, studying English and journalism. He is this year's News Editor at the Collegian, as well as a student writer with the marketing department. This summer, he is interning with the editorial and news sections of the Detroit News. You can find him reading good poetry and trying desperately to be better at appreciating art. Email: nryan1@hillsdale.edu | Twitter: @NolanRyan76