With the election on Tuesday, political activity on campus is heating up. A small army of students took over Ms. Barthelemy’s classroom on Monday afternoon.
Journalism instructor and speech and debate team moderator Ms. Barthelemy is happy to see so many politically active students spend the afternoon encouraging people to vote.
The students are staffing an old-fashioned political phone bank, one of the most reliable get-out-the-vote tools in politics. Using lists provided by New Orleans City Hall, more than 30 student volunteers are calling 2000 residents in the ninth and seventh wards to remind them to vote. In addition, the students are alerting voters about changes to the Amendment 2 on the ballot. Voters are being asked to decide if college presidents should have complete control over college tuition without legislative approval, so the students know calling is important.
The students are so driven to get out the vote that they even decided the phone bank would be B.Y.O.P. — as in Bring Your Own Phone. Research has shown that calling can be critical. Live calling can increase voter turnout by 3-5 percentage points among those contacted in the days before the election.
Working from a script, the students don’t tell people how to vote, but emphasize the importance of having one’s voice heard through voting.
“Some people don’t answer the phone,” said Mark Barnes, student phone bank volunteer. “Several people didn’t want to listen to what we have to say, and they hang up on us. But we’re not giving up.”
The Speech and Debate Team, Journalism students and members of the Student Government are working the phones until late in the evening Monday night.
“It’s important that out community gets involved because everybody needs to vote,” Jonathan Laugand, student body president said. “We just want everyone to get involved in the political system and to show up on Election Day,” Laugand added.