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Civic Engagement: The Iowa Caucuses
Unformatted Document Text:  With the original schedule for the caucuses, this due date would have been one day before the beginning of the spring semester. During the fall, however, when Florida moved up its primary, South Carolina responded by moving up its primary, which caused New Hampshire to move up its primary, leading Iowa to reschedule its caucuses to January 3 rd . I did, however, keep the due date for final paper. And we scheduled a forum where students in the class discussed their experiences in the caucuses with the wider community as part of the engaged citizen programming on campus. 6 The class met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 8:30 until 9:45. Most 75-minute classes meet only twice a week, but I scheduled the third meeting in part to allow more class time to discuss the internship experiences and in part to allow me to schedule guests to talk to the class. Unfortunately, there were only three classes where we were able to have guests. When I would approach people from campaigns who served in various roles (field director, media relations, fundraising, etc.) the initial response was almost always positive. But once it was made clear that all of the students in the class were already working for candidates and there were probably no votes to be had by talking with the class, they usually bowed out. 7 The class itself, then, was much like a traditional class, with readings to do, discussion of the material, and essays to write. In addition, using the Blackboard Blog capacity, we set up a class blog. Every couple of weeks or so, I would post a question to the blog about some aspect of their internships usually, though not always, tied to the topics we were discussing in class at the time, and the students were required to make at least one response to my query reflecting their internship experience. As with any blog, comments about what others wrote and dialogue were encouraged. In addition, the more interesting comments posted were, with permission of the student authors, transferred to a page on Drake’s Iowa Caucus website so that anyone could read about what the students were doing. 8 A syllabus for the class is attached as Appendix A. 6 Students received extra credit for participation in the forum. And most (3/4) of the students in the class participated even though most of them did not need the extra credit. 7 The University had its own broader Iowa Caucus Project designed to encourage student activity and involvement. Through that project, almost all of the candidates in both parties came to Drake to hold events, so there was plenty of activity on campus. But a small class of students, none of whom was likely to be an undecided voter, did not meet the needs of the campaigns. The only visitors I was able to obtain were people with whom I had preexisting relationships. For example, the Director of Media Relations in Iowa for the Clinton campaign was someone I had worked with a number of times in the past. He was willing to make time to come to class. 8 One of the students in the class was doing his internship with Drake’s Iowa Caucus Project – this was set up long before the class began – and part of his responsibility was to see that these examples were posted to the Drake website. We always sought permission for two reasons. First, I wanted to encourage an open and frank dialogue in the blog and keeping it as accessible only to the class would encourage that. And second, I did not want my students to violate the confidentiality of what was going on in the campaigns for whom they were working. I made it clear to the students that there was no penalty for not giving permission, and, in fact, I would not even know who the student in charge of this had contacted and, therefore, I would not know who had asked that their blog entry not be posted to a public site.

Authors: Sanders, Arthur.
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With the original schedule for the caucuses, this due date would have been one day
before the beginning of the spring semester. During the fall, however, when Florida
moved up its primary, South Carolina responded by moving up its primary, which caused
New Hampshire to move up its primary, leading Iowa to reschedule its caucuses to
January 3
rd
. I did, however, keep the due date for final paper. And we scheduled a forum
where students in the class discussed their experiences in the caucuses with the wider
community as part of the engaged citizen programming on campus.
The class met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 8:30 until 9:45.
Most 75-minute classes meet only twice a week, but I scheduled the third meeting in part
to allow more class time to discuss the internship experiences and in part to allow me to
schedule guests to talk to the class. Unfortunately, there were only three classes where we
were able to have guests. When I would approach people from campaigns who served in
various roles (field director, media relations, fundraising, etc.) the initial response was
almost always positive. But once it was made clear that all of the students in the class
were already working for candidates and there were probably no votes to be had by
talking with the class, they usually bowed out.
The class itself, then, was much like a
traditional class, with readings to do, discussion of the material, and essays to write. In
addition, using the Blackboard Blog capacity, we set up a class blog. Every couple of
weeks or so, I would post a question to the blog about some aspect of their internships
usually, though not always, tied to the topics we were discussing in class at the time, and
the students were required to make at least one response to my query reflecting their
internship experience. As with any blog, comments about what others wrote and
dialogue were encouraged. In addition, the more interesting comments posted were, with
permission of the student authors, transferred to a page on Drake’s Iowa Caucus website
so that anyone could read about what the students were doing.
A syllabus for the class is
attached as Appendix A.
6
Students received extra credit for participation in the forum. And most (3/4) of the
students in the class participated even though most of them did not need the extra credit.
7
The University had its own broader Iowa Caucus Project designed to encourage student
activity and involvement. Through that project, almost all of the candidates in both
parties came to Drake to hold events, so there was plenty of activity on campus. But a
small class of students, none of whom was likely to be an undecided voter, did not meet
the needs of the campaigns. The only visitors I was able to obtain were people with
whom I had preexisting relationships. For example, the Director of Media Relations in
Iowa for the Clinton campaign was someone I had worked with a number of times in the
past. He was willing to make time to come to class.
8
One of the students in the class was doing his internship with Drake’s Iowa Caucus
Project – this was set up long before the class began – and part of his responsibility was
to see that these examples were posted to the Drake website. We always sought
permission for two reasons. First, I wanted to encourage an open and frank dialogue in
the blog and keeping it as accessible only to the class would encourage that. And second,
I did not want my students to violate the confidentiality of what was going on in the
campaigns for whom they were working. I made it clear to the students that there was no
penalty for not giving permission, and, in fact, I would not even know who the student in
charge of this had contacted and, therefore, I would not know who had asked that their
blog entry not be posted to a public site.


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