DMU students embrace Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status

Caucus 101Students who enroll at Des Moines University enjoy advantages such as a rigorous, real-world curriculum; a collaborative environment; diverse opportunities to learn, volunteer and have fun; and a great city in which to do all those things. Every four years, they gain another advantage — the chance to shake hands, take selfies and talk with the next president of the United States.

Iowa has been the nation’s first state to hold caucuses in a calendar year since the early 1970s. Hence, they’re considered to be the first major electoral event in the candidates’ long road to the White House. That means in the months leading up to the caucuses, people in Iowa frequently come face-to-face with candidates as they stump in small-town cafes, take the soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, make their case on campuses and glad-hand as many voters as they can.

“It’s really fun to be in Iowa right now. All the attention is on us, and we have all this access to the candidates,” says Kyle Jaschen, a second-year osteopathic medical student and the legislative representative to the College of Osteopathic Medicine Student Government Association. “I feel it’s almost a responsibility to participate in the caucuses.”

To equip DMU students to do so, on Jan. 19 the DMU Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) hosted “Caucus 101,” an informational noon-hour presentation. It drew more than 100 people and was featured on the national SOMA website.

“Our students are active and focused on giving back to the community,” says DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D. “The event was part of their being very civic-minded.”

The Republican and Democratic parties host the caucuses, which bring together voters from the state’s 1,681 precincts to elect delegates to the county conventions. Participants also declare their presidential preference by casting secret ballots at Republican caucuses and by forming in groups at Democratic caucuses.

Any person who is eligible to vote in the state of Iowa and will be at least 18 years old on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016, may participate in the caucuses. They must reside in the precinct in which they wish to participate, and they must be registered with the party at whose caucus they’re attending. Party registration is available onsite on caucus night. Caucusing does not interfere with participants’ ability to vote in the November elections in their home state if they aren’t permanent Iowa residents.

“I don’t know where I’ll be for residency, during the next presidential election,” said Reeya Patel, D.O.’18, DMU SOMA president. “This could be my one chance to get my voice out there.”

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