Scripps Students Await 2020 Elections Following Significant Engagement

Helen Landau ’24 and her mother show written letters to unlikely voters.

Niva Laurent ’24
Staff Writer

There is less than a week until November 3rd, which marks the 2020 US Presidential Election. The end may be in sight to a historical and contentious election year, but it is almost unforeseeable to many Scripps students, who have dedicated substantial time and resources to political engagement and campaigning.

Following her internship for Rock the Vote and the Montana Democratic Party this summer, Julia Foodman ’21 transitioned into working field and communications for Liam O’Mara, who is vying for a seat in California’s 42nd congressional district. Despite her prior political experience, Foodman was more tense heading into O’Mara’s campaign.

“I’m feeling incredibly anxious … I can feel that I’m living through history,” Foodman said. As a senior Politics major Julia’s studies have enabled her to seek outside work experience, especially since she has already attained all the credits needed to graduate.

“If I’m going to dedicate all my time to a candidate, I want to actually agree with most of their policies,” Foodman said. O’Mara’s focus on progressive issues, such as labor rights and environmental conservation, was a major selling point to Foodman, who wants to work in campaigning post-graduation.

Lily Dunkin ’24 has taken a similar cue for her political engagement, citing the current state of women’s rights as a catalyst for action . Although she was disappointed that her first semester of college was online, she was happy to dedicate her time to a senatorial campaign in Colorado.

Since July, Dunkin has organized policy events and outreach efforts targeting activists for Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper, who is favored to flip the Republican-held Senate seat.

While working under the framework of an organization or campaign may be favored, other students have instead opted for personal initiatives. Many students have taken to letter-writing campaigns with their friends and family this election cycle, including Kira Yonelinas ’24. She has spent weeks writing letters to voters in swing states.

“I wanted to help in any way I could,” Yonelinas said. The first-year is following the footsteps of her parents, who have encouraged Yonelinas to learn more about politics as an adult.

Bringing her personal life to focus, Yonelinas mentioned how her parents recently obtained US citizenship. Although she is anxious about the election’s final outcome, Yonelinas found it critical to still engage in political outreach. “[The election] will define my family and friends’ rights, as well as my safety in this pandemic and the environmental future for this world.”

Despite COVID-19 upending traditional campaigning, it is evident students and organizations alike have adapted to current circumstances. The success of these efforts, however, will not be known until well after polls close on Election Day, as America chooses its path for the future.

Image Source: Helen Landau ‘24

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