University alum Ari Melber is one of many college-aged political activists taking a unique approach to campaigning for Tuesday’s election.

Melber, a 2002 University graduate, left his home in Washington two weeks ago and took a bus to Greensboro, N.C. for a weekend of intense campaign work for Democratic senatorial candidate Erskine Bowles. Once in North Carolina, Melber talked to voters over the phone, helped host a debate watching party and visited 26 churches one Sunday morning to distribute campaign literature. In between, he took the time to visit a single-room building that at one time housed a segregated grammar school for black children.

“I think that the ideals and goals that people have for public policies are the same in different places, but it’s interesting to go to a place and see how people with different backgrounds and different experiences react to issues,” Melber said.

Students from colleges across the country are getting involved in similar grassroots campaigns that are taking them far from their home voting district in order to get a fresh perspective on the election process.

“The interesting thing about Greensboro is it was the beginning of the sit-ins and the beginning of the civil rights movement. A policy has a different meaning and connotation there based on people’s backgrounds,” Melber said.

American University sophomore Holly Teresi had an experience like Melber’s, traveling to Portsmouth, N.H., where she canvassed door to door in support of Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic senatorial candidate.

“I had been to New Hampshire before, and I wanted to go back because the people there are so politically aware. It’s a great environment for politics,” Teresi said.

Students at the University of Michigan are among those involved, as both Democrat and Republican student groups are taking part in campaigns outside of Ann Arbor. University graduate Reza Breakstone, of 21st Century Democrats, recently organized a trip to Minnesota for the University Democrats. The group campaigned on behalf of the now deceased Sen. Paul Wellstone.

“The University’s College Democrats, being so fired up and committed to Senator Wellstone, were eager to go out for his cause. It seemed to serve to be a monumental experience and not just a memorable one,” Breakstone said.

Breakstone also said that he believes student Democrats from Michigan are willing to travel more because of the current outlook for local Democratic candidates.

“I think kids are more likely to go out especially if some of the local officials are in safer positions.”

University Republican groups are also active in recruiting help in campaigns off campus. The College Republican National Committee is working with the Republican National Committee to recruit students for a “Get Out the Vote” campaign, offering a donation of $500 per day toward student groups taking part in the campaign. Republican students from the University of Michigan will be actively involved in a campaign in St. Clair County.

“The students that we’re recruiting are going to be really important to this ‘Get Out the Vote’ campaign,” CRNC Field Representative Marissa Lynch said.

College Republicans Chairman Adam Haba commented on the importance of the St. Clair County campaign of Michigan Secretary of State Candice Miller, who is running for the 10th Congressional District seat.

“We’re doing it through the Candice Miller campaign … and that’s a big area for her campaign. This election is one of the key elections for Republicans in the state,” Haba said.

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