For the last Campaign College training that I attended, I was lucky enough to head to a location I’d never set foot in before, the upper peninsula of Michigan. As an honorary Yooper (that’s the term for people in the U.P.), I got a chance to see the expansive Lake Superior and sample fresh white fish. But more important, I got the chance to work with the campus staff, faculty, and student liaison Kaylee Place of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.
The training was an excellent opportunity for NMU to offer a program for their already active student body. Many of their students participate in community and volunteer activities, but on campus there is often little involvement in student government.
The training’s featured speaker was Jocelyn Benson, a young woman running for secretary of state in Michigan. Benson is a true role model to these women, not just for her current campaign, but for what she accomplished while on campus at Wellesley College. There, as student government president, she worked to institute a student seat on the local town council. This seat has sustained, and it provides an opportunity for students and town members to work together.
Also during the training, the participants heard from communications expert Cindy Paavola, director of marketing and communications at NMU, and from current student government leaders. Paavola made sure that the students thought about the different audiences they were trying to reach in their campaigns and the strategies they needed to develop to reach their “circles of influence.”
For their “circles of influence,” the students were encouraged to think of a center circle as their campaign team and then formulate subsequent circles with the different audiences they would reach out to in their campaign. In the campaigning simulation, the students were strategic in developing campaign teams and using many of the AAUW and NMU volunteers to help in their efforts. The race came down to a one-vote margin!
Also, since the training, we are pleased to announce that Lucia Lopez and Courtney Russell came to the Campaign College training and WON! They are NMU’s new president and vice president, respectively, of Associated Students of Northern Michigan University! We look forward to learning from this experience at NMU and building the training into the school’s targeted efforts for female student leadership.
This program also brought together great connections between state and local AAUW members, with AAUW president Kathy Shaw traveling over eight hours one way to attend this training. We are thankful for the AAUW of Michigan support in training young women to run for student government.