Posted May 2, 2016
By SIDNEY STERLING
Signs and shirts that say “Make Herstory” and “A Woman’s Place is in the White House” flood the UC Breezeway. It is election season at the University of Miami.
Groups such as Hurricanes for Hillary, a non-profit student run organization at the University of Miami, are making it their mission to enhance Clinton’s presence in order to secure her spot in the White House.
Grasping the voters and especially student voters in the South Miami/Coral Gables location is a must when it comes to political fundraising, campaigning and snatching Florida in the electoral college.
Hillary Clinton’s Florida team knows that.
However, Clinton’s team is not focused on the general election just yet. They are honing in on key states and pinpointing certain age groups necessary to win the Democratic nomination against Bernie Sanders.
Sanders has been known to excite students and young voters with promises such as free public college education and legalizing marijuana. Thus, causing Clinton’s employees and volunteers to go the extra mile in order to sway young voters on college campuses, like the University of Miami, to vow their loyalty to Clinton instead of Sanders.
“American college-aged students demanding a “revolution” is no new phenomenon. Sanders’ message is blunt, simple, and appealing to those who feel as though they have been disenfranchised. The problem is that our political system is not nearly as simple as Sanders makes it seem,” Annie Schwab said. “I think college-aged students, unaware of this harsh reality, don’t want to hear an agenda such as that of Secretary Clinton’s that is relatively more modest in its promises to account for the way in which the system functions.”
Clinton’s overall positive presence on the University of Miami campus and in South Florida does not happen overnight. Students like Schwab and other Hurricane for Hillary members provide an information outlet for the national campaign to reach young people on campus in a personal way.
“You could find Hurricanes for Hillary members like myself tabling in the UC Breezeway just about every week leading up to the Florida primary, and the club will continue to do so next semester in preparation for the general election,” Schwab stated. “We pass out flyers containing information on select issues about which students tend to be passionate. These snippets of information help build an informed supporter base that can coherently explain why Secretary Clinton should be the next president of the United States and overall boost her support base on the UM campus.”
Clinton has a familiar face in the UM community. Recently retired UM President Donna Shalala, served in Bill Clinton’s presidential cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001 and is currently president of the Clinton Foundation.
Clinton’s brothers, Tony Rodham and Hugh Rodham, resided in Coral Gables during Clinton’s presidency and Bill Clinton were seen golfing with the Rodham brothers at the Biltmore. Clinton also made trips to the South Miami area and the University of Miami during her time as a senator from New York, as Secretary of State and during her run for the White House in the 2008.
On a larger scale, Florida’s finance director for Clinton’s campaign, Gregory Goddard, knew capturing voters and reinstating Clinton’s image at the University of Miami would be a major key in seizing the nomination.
“As Florida’s Finance Director for Clinton’s campaign, my job is to directly handle or oversee all campaign fundraising throughout the state,” Goddard said.
“Even though UM is a private institution with not as many instate students as University of Florida, for example, UM has major influence in the South Miami region with big voters and even bigger donors. We believe that every vote is important; however, it is important to remember that winning Miami, a diverse and heavily populated city, carries a lot of weight.”
Goddard also acknowledges the importance of student organizations involvement and educating young voters on Clinton’s policies.
“It is very important for college students to not only register, but get active in campaigns – this election will more directly impact their future,” Goddard said. “Getting involved and assisting Clinton’s success is easier than this digital generation thinks. They can register fellow students, sign up to volunteer with the campaign (making phone calls and on knocking doors) there is This election is too important to sit out on.”
Students can be seen on campus voicing their political opinions through car decals, laptop stickers and various political gear.
“Although I was born and raised in New York, my family now lives in Florida so they can be closer to me now that I am at UM,” freshman public relations major Catherine Napoli said. “I registered to vote in Florida because I know how important every vote is, especially for Clinton’s campaign. Young adults are easily swayed by idealistic values, that is why Sanders has such a strong following by college students. We need to do a better job educating young voters on campus.”
Through the scope on a national level, Shellie Levin, a Miami native and member of Clinton’s national finance team, stresses the importance of voter turnout and education on college campuses, especially UM.
“I truly believe that a candidate cannot capture the electoral college without winning Florida. Many candidates only focus on public institutions and forget how important schools like UM are,” Levin said. “Not only do I help run Clinton’s national finances, I have face-to-face conversations with college students on UM’s campus, I educate young voters on Hillary’s policies and I encourage them to have peer-to-peer discussions about politics. I do not tell them who to vote for, I simply inform them on policies.”