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.