Recent events have drawn media attention to both South Carolina and Charleston. Highlights include the Mike Huckabee Show filmed in the Sottile Theatre, a town hall with Congressman Ron Paul, the Steven Colbert and Herman Cain Rally, plus multiple CNN broadcasts featuring Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett.
With the South Carolina primary shifting the political spotlight to our very own campus, some lucky students found themselves with many exciting volunteer opportunities.
Communications professor and director of The Bully Pulpit Series, Amanda Ruth-McSwain, was the main contact person for these events.
Ruth-McSwain said, “I was asked to provide student runners, production assistants and volunteers for these events as well as the CNN Republican Presidential Debate in North Charleston.”
Student volunteer opportunities were primarily offered to students majoring in communications who participate in the mentor/protégé program, and then extended to students enrolled in certain communications courses like political communication or public relations.
Volunteer, Chris Piedmont said, “When I saw in the paper all of the things that were going on with CNN and the Bully Pulpit Series, I reached out to see how I could get involved and opportunities kept popping up. It’s been an amazing experience.”
A total of 12 volunteers had multi-faceted positions, working in public relations getting credentials for journalists in attendance at the debate, or serving as stand-ins for the presidential candidates during preparation.
Susan Guth said, “We were stand-ins for the candidates, doing sound checks and run-throughs of the debate, among other tasks”
For the volunteers, this was an opportunity unlike any other to be apart of a most memorable experience.
Guth said, “It was a unique experience to see how a presidential debate is put together and all the preparation that goes into it.”
Piedmont also commented on the historical significance of volunteering at the debate. He said, “Although one of these guys may not become the next president, it’s so fascinating to see the political process occur right before your eyes and seeing the nation’s eyes turned to South Carolina.”
Regardless of whether students were able to participate in these events as volunteers, or simply attend as captive audience members, it can be concluded that many were thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the political atmosphere encompassing campus.
Ruth-McSwain added, “My hope is that exposure to these events encouraged students to think critically about political campaigns, make independent and informed decisions about issues important to them, and embrace the voice that they have through their vote.”