UNC Charlotte students take advantage of convention opportunities

| August 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Time Warner Cable Arena in uptown Charlotte, where the majority of convention activities will be held. Photo by Barry Falls

Almost a year ago those living in Charlotte, N.C. learned that the Democratic National Convention (DNC) would take over their city from Monday, Sept. 3, through Thursday, Sept. 6.  Now UNC Charlotte students are gearing up to volunteer for the convention that has been described by the Democratic Party as, “the most open and accessible in history.”

In addition to working at the DNC one UNC Charlotte student, Daniel Rufty, along with some others traveled to Tampa Bay, Fla. to take part in the Republican National Convention (RNC) last week.

Many other members of the College Republicans would have attended the RNC if possible, but they are making the most here in Charlotte by knocking on doors of people in the community and working phone banks.

Most students involved in volunteer activities for both conventions worked with UNC Charlotte through the 49er Democratic Experience, a program that set students up with internships and volunteer opportunities.

“UNC Charlotte maintains a particular commitment to addressing the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health, and social needs of the greater Charlotte region; the 49er Democracy Experience is an expression of that commitment,” Joan Lorden, the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said according to the 49er Democratic Experience website.

Democratic National Convention

UNC Charlotte’s Center City campus is in the DNC’s “red zone,” the area of uptown Charlotte that will be closed off to the general public during the convention’s span. Students taking classes in the Center City building during the convention will be relocated to rooms on UNC Charlotte’s main campus. Other locations in uptown Charlotte will be occupied by various aspects of the DNC, including Bank of America Stadium, where President Barack Obama will speak on Sept. 6, and Time Warner Cable Arena, where the bulk of the convention will be hosted. Graphic by Christain Billings

For over a year the City of Charlotte has been doing it’s best to prepare the city for the coming DNC, including training volunteers for media, political and many other jobs.

UNC Charlotte senior, Ashleigh Thornton, signed up to participate in a job shadow with AT&T and Bloomberg Press through the 49er Democratic Experience and hopes to use this opportunity to network with members of the Democratic Party.  To receive her position at the DNC Thornton had to apply and compete with many other students for the two spots available.

“I hope to gain networking opportunities and that’s good because it’s just like business and politics it’s about who you know.  It’s not always what you know. I really believe in the Obama campaign and everything they stand for and are trying to accomplish,” Thornton, a Marketing major, said.

One day she hopes to work in politics and is also a member of the Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County where she plans to become a board member in the near future.

While many students participating are there for political reasons and have aligning beliefs with the Democratic Party there are some participants working for media organizations, helping set up the convention and even working as drivers for those attending the convention.

Republican National Convention
There may not be nearly as many UNC Charlotte students traveling to the RNC, but there will still be many students doing what they can to influence the coming election.

“Those of us who were not able to make it to Tampa are busy with phone calls at the Victory offices, and door knocking around the community. Also, we have U.S. Representative Tim Scott coming to speak to our chapter on Sept. 4, and Herman Cain will be speaking Sept. 13, on behalf of his College Truth Tour,” Regi Simpson, the president of College Republicans, said.

Those who did travel to the RNC are participating in many roles, such as Rufty, who is a RNC Delegate for N.C.

Open Volunteer Opportunities
Many students have their jobs for the DNC set in place, but for those who were unaware of the 49er Democratic Experience still have the chance to sign up and participate in the convention.

Green Team Charlotte will be working to recycle and compost materials from the DNC Sept. 3, through Sept. 6.  Everyone who signs up to volunteer must work two shifts.  To sign up students can go to DemocracyExperience.com.
The publishers of “The Atlantic,” the National Journal Group, also have volunteer openings for UNC Charlotte students.  Volunteers will be working as Brand Ambassadors at the DNC and other events related to the convention. Open shifts are Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 2 to 7 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon and noon to 4 p.m.; Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon.

To sign up to work with the National Journal Group email lcorvo@nationaljournal.com and should meet at 721 N Tryon Street in the McColl Center for their shifts.

Grassroots organization, ONE, is also still accepting volunteer applicants to help at the convention.  Shifts will last Monday to Thursday from 6 to 9 a.m. at the EpiCentre in uptown Charlotte.  To register students should go to http://act.one.org/event/generalevent_attend/10365.

Those who want to participate in the DNC but do not necessary want to take on a partisan role will get their chance with Americans for Prosperity who will be at the convention educating those attending of economic policy.  Those interested in this opportunity should email sbilly@afphq.org.

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