Wednesday, March 3, 2021
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Students rough the campaign trail

Now that election week has finally arrived, it’s safe to say that many are ready for the campaign season to end.

This is especially true for students who have blazed the campaign trail for weeks now, anxious to see if their  hard work paid off.

Caleb-Michael Files and Babajide Ajisafe, both juniors at UMKC, have juggled school and contributing to this year’s presidential election with diligence and planning.

Files is the Western Missouri Organizer for the Vote Mob coalition, an organization working with President Obama’s campaign. During the past three weeks, Files said he has put in roughly 40-50 hours per week.

“Although our organization works with the president, I just want to see people vote,” Files said. “I most enjoy registering people who haven’t voted before and seeing their eagerness to vote for someone they believe in.”

Files works primarily on organizing college campuses. His organization has three goals: to make sure students are registered to vote, to encourage those who have no interest in politics to become interested, and to help college students who are registered to vote in other jurisdictions with requesting absentee ballots.

Files discussed his motivation for campaign work.

“Democracy is what’s at the heart of America,” he said. “Without allowing people to vote or have a voice, we don’t have an America.”

Files said that he hopes to run for office in 2016 as a state representative for the Missouri’s 24th district in Midtown Kansas City.  He said that working for the campaign has taught him people skills.

Ajisafe’s role is a little different. He is a political science major and the vice president of Alpha Phi Alpha, a fraternity invested in getting students involved with politics.

Alpha Phi Alpha is not affiliated with a particular party, but is involved with a movement called “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People.”

For the past month and a half, members of Alpha Phi Alpha have held a voter registration drive at the Student Union each Wednesday from noon until 3 p.m.

Ajisafe said that the group has registered approximately 150 students this year.

“I grew up in a household where CNN was always on,” Ajisafe said, explaining how his interest in politics was cultivated at home.

Ajisafe said he has gained an aspect of service orientation from the campaign.   He also learned who the organization’s target audience was and where it could be found, which translated into real life campaign experiences.

Setting up in the Student Union was the best option for Alpha Phi Alpha because of its proximity to the residence halls and Oak Place Apartments.

Ajisafe said there will be a watch party Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Theater. Food will be provided and anyone is welcome to attend.

“The end is the best part,” Ajisafe said, “when we register all those people to vote and have an election watch party with the same people we registered and seeing them feel like they matter.”

rmortensen@unews.com

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