Mills broadened its involvement in pre-election activities last
Friday as Femme Dems, the women’s Democratic club at Mills,
traveled to Reno, Nev. to join an event designed to get registered
Democrats to vote in the days before the election.
The trip officially began on Friday evening as six of the 12
Femme Dems members, including this writer, and one non-affiliated
Mills student joined several other California college students on
the drive to Reno.
The plan was to get college Democrats involved with the campaign
in the swing-state of Nevada during the last four days of the
election, according to Pam Bachilla, a senior at UC Berkeley and
president of the California Berkeley Democrats.
The trip was coordinated by senior Alexis Nelson, president of
Femme Dems, in conjunction with the California College Democrats, a
group of Democrat organizations from Bay Area colleges.
Nelson said she has been planning the trip with the College
Democrats since the beginning of the fall semester. She said she
thought it would be a good event for the Femme Dems to attend
because she “wanted to represent Mills” and was excited
about the possibility of having an affect on the election.
Residents of various states unaffiliated with the College
Democrats also attended the event. According to Bachilla,
approximately 138 students were in attendance while there were
about 700 people who participated in all.
To the delight of the College Democrats leaders, the numbers
were greater than expected.
“I’m really excited so many people have come out to
sway this election and protect our future,” Bachilla
The primary goal of the event was to encourage registered Nevada
Democrats who do not consistently vote to go to the polls. The
participants did their work through phone calls and door-to-door
visits known as canvassing.
Matt Bogeshin, one of the event coordinators, stated during the
opening ceremonies on Saturday, “We are going after the
people that are in our corner yet have a history of inconsistent
voting.” Bogeshin added that the campaign headquarters had
already made 11,000 phone calls per day in the past three
After the opening ceremonies on Saturday, everyone was split
into groups and assigned a canvassing precinct as well as a
phone-banking list. Several of the Femme Dems did both the
canvassing and phone banking together while a few joined other
groups. They repeated the same routine on Sunday before returning
home that evening.
Most of the Mills students had similar reasons for participating
in the event. Senior Masumi Patzel is not a member of the Femme
Dems but joined the trip to Reno because she wanted to make sure
that people voted in this crucial election.
“What happens in this election is not just going to affect
our lives in the next few years,” Patzel said.
“It’s going to affect the future of American policy for
the next few decades.”
Senior Brianna Muldr agreed and added that she also wanted to
make sure that people voted for Kerry. She attributed a phone call
from the Kerry campaign and an advertisement for swing state
efforts as the true “driving force” behind her decision
to come to Nevada.
Many were impressed with the large number of Democrats who had
actually voted in Nevada. Michelle Avanti, a precinct leader and
Nevada resident, said, “I’ve never seen…in my 30
years of voting any state as organized as Nevada has become. [It]
really shows how angry the country has become.”
Eric Rivera, a student from the University of San Francisco, was
impressed because it appeared the residents of Nevada were more
motivated to vote than the students at his school.
“Coming from an apathetic school, it was nice to hear so
many people are going to vote,” Rivera said, adding that it
was “encouraging that Nevada, which everyone writes off as
Republican country, has so many Democrats.”
Nelson said she was pleased at “how hard people were
working for the campaign” yet observed that several Nevada
residents appeared to be ashamed that they were Democrats. She said
that some of the people she visited refused to state who they were
voting for and believes this is due to the pressures of living in a
primarily Republican state.
Despite a negative encounter with a man who felt the group was
soliciting, Patzel believes the experience was positive overall.
She said her favorite part of the trip was meeting other
“It was interesting to get to know more of [the] minds of
the Bay Area, hear their voices and opinions, and get to know more
students,” Patzel said.
Many of the participants also believed that the event was a
positive experience. Nelson said the best part for her was
“getting to see how this grass roots movements was
happening…and being a part of it.” Muldr agreed and
said she learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes and
“how much everybody has to plough through to do
Muldr became so involved in the campaign that she decided to
remain in Nevada until Wednesday instead of returning to Mills on
Sunday with the others.
“I didn’t want to walk a way knowing that I could do
more [for the campaign]” she said.
Muldr joined 38 other students in Las Vegas and said she felt
she was “getting a lot more done [without the Femme Dems]
because an individual can do a lot more than a group.”