In the midst of the nation’s current obsession with this year’s presidential campaigns and election, Bates students are also eager to get in on the action. While Bates students take political activism on campus quite seriously, some students find ways to mimic the reality of presidential elections through academic opportunities. Exemplary of this opportunity is a seminar in the rhetoric department, known as the Presidential Campaign Rhetoric seminar, which grants students the opportunity to conduct mock campaigns for portions of the semester.
This year, the President Campaign Rhetoric seminar ran mock campaigns featuring four students on campus: Gabriel Nott ‘17, Matthew Baker ‘17, Molly Chisholm ‘17, and Courtney Foster ‘18. Nott and his running mate, Foster, ran as the democratic candidates for president and vice-president, while Chisholm and Baker ran as the republican candidates.
Throughout the semester, these four candidates conducted mock campaigns and debates that addressed social and political issues pertinent to the current election cycle.
“The issues we discuss are in the modern day. Our election is situated in the now, so we’re both running to succeed Barack Obama. Mainly, we’re focusing on crime, national security, the economy, and education. The issue of mandatory minimum prison sentencing, for example, has been central in this campaign”, Nott explained.
Since this seminar is offered by the rhetoric department, as opposed to the political science department, students use the mock campaign to analyze ways in which a presidential persona is created and maintained through the use of language and discourse. However, the seminar does interact and engage with other classes during the semester, so students who are not necessarily taking the course may still have a chance to get involved. For example, this year over 600 students participated as voters in the election.
It is important to note, especially for current underclassmen who are potentially interested in participating in the Presidential Campaign Rhetoric Seminar in their Bates career, that the seminar is only run every two years. For students who wish you receive more information regarding this particular rhetoric seminar, please refer to the rhetoric department’s webpage at https://www.bates.edu/rhetoric/.