For many years, college campuses have been hotspots for political discussions. Between campus protests and political clubs, many students today feel the need to be politically active and to work toward change. This attitude is as prevalent at Colby, where many students choose to become government majors and partake in political activism. Amongst all the political discussions about the upcoming Presidential and local elections, one Colby student decided to take action.
Lily Herrmann ’19 is currently spending a semester away from Colby to work for the Maine Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign. She is a field organizer focused on the Hillary Clinton campaign while also helping local democrats. “My goal in the campaign is to ensure that all four of Maine’s electoral votes go to Hillary Clinton. I’m also hoping to work towards electing democrats up and down the ticket because we have the opportunity to win a majority in the [state] this year which would be a veto majority against Paul LePage’s obstructionism,” Herrmann said.
Coming from New York—the state in which Hillary Clinton served as Senator from 2001-2009—Herrmann became aware of Clinton at a young age. This, in addition to her mother’s involvement in local politics, gave Herrmann the motivation to be politically aware and involved. In 2008, her mother campaigned for Clinton. Eight years later, Herrmann decided to work on her first campaign. When asked what motivated her to take action beyond simply voting for Clinton, Herrmann said, “I think it’s important to have actions behind your words. So if I’m going to talk to my peers as to why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, I should also be talking to my neighbors and the greater state of Maine about why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I realized that I wanted to take a more active role in ensuring that she would be elected.”
Up to this point in the campaign, Herrmann’s experience has been wonderful. “It’s been a really great experience. Interpersonal connections are amazing. I’ve gotten to meet a lot of amazing people in the Waterville-Augusta area who are involved in local politics, national politics, and local issues and it’s been eye-opening to see what Mainers really care about and how that relates to what I cared about coming from New York or what Colby students care about,” she said.
Among all the positive experiences Herrmann has had thus far, her favorite has been getting to know her volunteers. Many of the volunteers come from various backgrounds but two stand out the most. One currently works for minimum wage at a McDonalds. Sometimes she has to work from 4:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. yet she still finds time in the evening to support the campaign. The other is a high school student who won’t be able to vote come this election cycle. Even though she cannot vote and much of her time is consumed with high school commitments, she still works hard to volunteer whenever she can. “They’re so involved, even when it seems like they shouldn’t have to be or they have other priorities. They go out of their way to ensure that America’s going to have a great future and that they’ll have a better future because of politicians like Hillary Clinton and the local democrats,” Herrmann said. “It’s really awe-inspiring.”
Herrmann’s focus on Clinton’s campaign is centered in the Waterville-Augusta area. Because of this, students can often find her around campus. Though she still gets to visit campus and see her friends, there is a big difference between coming to Colby for a campaign and actually attending Colby. Much of Herrmann’s time at Colby is spent developing professional relationships with peers, a sharp contrast from the personal ones she normally develops. Additionally, Herrmann says she misses attending classes and being part of the intellectual community on campus. “A lot of what I do on Colby campus right now is campaign-focused, so I’m here helping run voter registration drives, and trying to get fall fellows, and running phone banks. Though I’m usually here for campaigns, it’s also good to see my friends every once and a while,” she said. “I miss going here a lot but I love living in Waterville and getting to meet a people in the Waterville community.”
Herrmann is just one of many people working to find creative ways to get local communities and college students active in the campaign. One of these ways is the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) Campaign Challenge, created by Fall Fellow Adrienne Carmack ’18. The goal is to benefit from the already existing CBB rivalry and create a friendly competition in which the schools get points for their students’ participation in the campaign. These volunteers are sometimes highlighted on the campaign’s social media pages. The campaign hopes that this will motivate more students from these schools to volunteer. “I think it’s a good opportunity for the college students around the area to get involved with what’s going on in local politics and national politics. So it’s definitely encouraging everyone to get out and volunteer for the campaign to not only win the CBB Campaign Challenge for Colby, but to also win the presidency,” Herrmann said.
Herrmann plans to return to Colby following the campaign. Though she plans on staying politically active, she is unsure if a career in politics is for her, “It’s not necessarily my career path to follow politics but I’m open to where the future takes me,” she said.
During her interview with The Echo, one of points Herrmann continued to stress was that everyone should be politically aware and active. When concluding, she stated that one of her biggest takeaways so far has been how important it is to have political discussions and discover what issues are important to different people. She believes that through open dialogue and political activism, this country can progress. “It’s really important to talk to people about the issues that they care about and then relate them to issues that are going on and the politicians that are talking about those issues,” Herrmann said. “I think it’s really easy to be complacent about politics and act like there’s no hope in the future, that there’s no way for the country to move forward. But there’s a lot of people out there who work really hard to push this country in the right direction. I feel it’s important to have open conversations and dialogue with your neighbors and the people around you so you can talk about the things that are important and not just act like things can’t get better—because they can.”