Students Host Political Boot Camp

College Democrats and Republicans at URI hosted a free, bipartisan, statewide political boot camp last fall.

Of/By/For/RI: The Rhode Island Student Political Boot Camp is designed to foster stronger connections between Rhode Island’s college and high school students and equip them with the skills to become agents of change, whether they run for office, work on a campaign, or advocate for an issue about which they are passionate.

Howard Dean, the former six-term governor of Vermont, contender for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 through 2009, gave the keynote address. Other speakers included former U.S. Representative Robert Weygand ’71, ’76, URI’s vice president for administration and finance; Rhode Island Republican Party Chair Ken McKay; and Rhode Island Democratic Party Chair Ed Pacheco.

“The event wasn’t about ideology, it was about empowering youth with the skills to create change,” said Scott Andrews, president of College Democrats at URI, a political science major with minors in leadership studies and business.

“Students who have an interest in making a difference in their own lives or lives of those around them can find the skills they may need at the boot camp,” says James McMahon, president of the College Republicans and an Iraqi War U.S. Marine Corps veteran majoring in communication studies. “There is no handbook for how to get involved in politics, but we’re here and we are making one. Students will have opportunities to learn about the current state of affairs, how to create their own Web sites, recruit volunteers to a cause, develop issue advocacy, media and messaging skills, résumé building, and more.

An inaugural political boot camp was held last year at Brown University.