Dallas Roberts, co-leader of WWU Students for Bernie Sanders, stood on the stage of Arntzen Hall 100 Wednesday night, looking out to roughly 300 people in attendance to the Bernie Sanders organizing meeting, nearly filling the largest lecture hall at Western. The room was abuzz with people looking to dedicate time volunteering to promote caucusing for Sanders in Washington.
Roberts hosted the volunteer information and organization night, alongside members of the presidential candidate’s Washington state and national campaign teams.
The meeting opened at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, but didn’t start until almost 7 p.m., due to an influx of students and people from the community.
“I think he really appeals to a lot of people’s thinking here, since we are a more liberal state, and we are more for equality for all. That’s one of his main motives is to make sure that people aren’t getting unjustifiably…discriminated against through old laws, going back to the war on drugs and how those policies are now affecting incarceration rates,” said senior computer science major, Sarah McKee, one of the attendees.
Roberts introduced Joan Kato, the state director of the Sanders campaign in Washington. Kato presented several different ways volunteers could get involved, including phone banking, door-to-door canvassing, and caucusing for Sanders on March 26. She also touched on how students can have their voice heard at the caucus if they are unable to attend.
Kato said the turnout at Wednesday’s meeting is evidence that Sanders strikes with young people, older people and the Bellingham community.
“The fact that he’s fighting to take our country back from the billionaire class and Wall Street is very significant because right now people are feeling like this economy is rigged and the political system is rigged, and that things just aren’t working how they had envisioned in Washington D.C.,” Kato said.
While Kato was on stage, crowd members chimed in with pro-Bernie interjections throughout her presentation. When Kato was talking about America’s current struggle with equality, she asked, “Who would want that for our country?” To which a crowd member yelled back, “Republicans!”
On March 26, 2016, there will be several caucus locations open around Washington state. Voters can attend and represent their candidate of choice at these caucuses; as a result, a certain number of state delegates will be won for each candidate based on attendance.
A full list of Bellingham caucus locations is available on the Whatcom County Democrats website.
The campaign team and leaders of WWU Students for Bernie Sanders stressed the importance of not only volunteering, but attending the caucus itself.
At press time, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 1,129 delegates to 498 delegates, based on primary election results. A candidate needs 2,383 delegates to win the democratic nomination.
“The biggest thing that we’ve been trying to get across to people is that showing up for events, wearing Bernie buttons, posting Bernie stuff on Facebook is cool, it’s great, but if you don’t show up to the caucus [on the 26th], it’s all pretty much meaningless. He needs your vote and we need as many delegates as possible for him from our state,” said senior and club co-leader Lucas Robinson.
Until then, Western students are beginning to campaign, and there were several ways to volunteer presented on Wednesday night.
“The most important takeaway is that it’s easy to volunteer,” said Western senior and co-leader of WWU Students for Bernie Sanders, Conner Koreis. Koreis said students can get information by contacting WWU Students for Bernie Sanders.