On Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., a group of students gathered in Gasson 305 for the first time to demonstrate their support for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The projector screen was pulled down and a PowerPoint full of campaign information was ready to go. Indie music played in the background.
The gathering was the first meeting of “BC Students for Hillary,” a new club that aims to promote Clinton’s bid for the presidency throughout Boston College and beyond by word of mouth and active campaigning. The club's leaders encourage even those who do not support any candidate yet to attend their meetings to learn more about the election and cast an informed vote.
Leaders Frank DiMartino, MCAS '17, and James Cody, MCAS '16, who have both worked with broader Clinton campaigns in the past few months, took care to explain throughout the gathering not only why BC students should vote for Clinton but how they could make a tangible difference in her campaign.
First, a campaign video highlighted Clinton’s careers as First Lady, Senator of New York and Secretary of State. Her domestic record was touted proudly throughout the night, with landmark projects such as child healthcare highlighted. “She’s a fighter, and her healthcare priorities really show that. She got knocked down but got right back up,” said DiMartino, referencing Clinton’s inability to pass the Health Security Act—nicknamed Hillarycare due to her involvement—under her husband’s presidency but her eventual passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
DiMartino and Cody also emphasized Clinton’s history of advocating for better gun control as especially important, given other candidates’ positions on the topic. “She’s the only candidate that has really stood up to gun control enthusiasts," said DiMartino. "One of her counterparts has voted against the Brady Bill, which required background checks and mandatory waiting periods to get guns, and they voted against that five times,” referencing Senator Bernie Sanders.
Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State seemed especially important during the meeting. “Foreign policy is an incredibly important component for the Presidency, and no candidate other than Secretary Clinton is qualified in this field,” DiMartino asserted. He and Cody emphasized her record, which includes Iran sanctions, a ceasefire between Israel and Palestine and a strong focus on human rights.
A second video, this one focusing on Clinton’s foreign policy skills, was studded with figures such as first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and former Director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
The last slide on the PowerPoint was filled with a list of things that Clinton's BC supporters could do to spread the word around campus and beyond, such as bringing friends to future meetings and canvassing (reaching out to voters door-to-door or via telephone) around Massachusetts with Congressman Joe Kennedy III. Cody also made a quick video call to a Clinton campaign organizer in New Hampshire, Samuel Kelly, who urged those at the meeting to come up to New Hampshire to canvass before the state’s primary. Cody said he planned on doing so in the state with Kelly, and encouraged those at the meeting to join him.
When asked why he was voting for Clinton in 2016, Cody cited his experience with her campaign. “I think being able to see what she does everyday, what it’s like on the trail… the passion she has to meet every single person has been inspiring," he said. "She’s here because she cares about us, and her fights are our fights."
DiMartino added a more personal element to the discussion. “Being someone who’s LGBT, I know she’s really going to stand up and fight for me on those issues, and she really cares about who I am as a person. I think a lot of times some politicians forget about the individual, and I don’t think Secretary Clinton is like that.”
Both Cody and DiMartino remained upbeat about Clinton’s ability to address the problems that BC students are most concerned about, such as campus sexual assault and rising tuition costs. “I think a lot of candidates prefer victims of campus sexual assault to remain silent. Hillary has said time and time again that she’s going to be there for you,” Cody said. “She’s looking to get treatment and prevention methods, and she’s looking to educate people on the issue to make a dent in it, to show that this isn’t okay.”
As for rising tuition costs, DiMartino framed Clinton’s ideals of making tuition more affordable to those at the bottom of the social spectrum while avoiding free education for all in a quintessentially BC way. “I personally don’t agree that everyone needs free college tuition. To me, that’s inefficient,” he said. “Kind of like what BC says about being men and women for others… It’s on those who are more privileged to help those who are less privileged.”