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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

R.I. Student Political Boot Camp at URI Nov. 18 -20

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Former Democratic Party chair Howard Dean to give keynote address

KINGSTON, R.I. –November 3, 2011 –College Democrats and Republicans at the University of Rhode Island will host a free, bipartisan, statewide political boot camp Nov. 18 through 20.

Of/By/For/RI: The Rhode Island Student Political Boot Camp is designed to foster stronger connections between Rhode Island’s college and high school students and equip them with the skills to become agents of change, whether they run for office, work on a campaign, or advocate for an issue about which they are passionate. A full schedule of events and registration can be found at http://www.ofbyforrhodeisland.org.

Howard Dean, former six-term governor of Vermont who ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, will kick off the weekend with a keynote address Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. The talk will be held in the Thomas M. Ryan Family Auditorium in the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences Building, 120 Flagg Road, Kingston. The talk and all other events, which will be held in Swan Hall, Doody Auditorium, 60 Upper College Rd., Kingston, are free and open to the public.

Dean was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 through 2009 and is often cited for his “50 State Strategy,” which helped democrats make historic gains. Other speakers include former U.S. Representative Robert Weygand, URI vice president administration and finance, chair of the Rhode Island Republican Party Ken McKay, and chair of the Rhode Island Democratic Party Ed Pacheco.

“The event isn't about ideology, it is about empowering youth with the skills to create change,” says Scott Andrews, president of College Democrats at URI who majors in political science and minors in leadership studies and business.

“Not only will this training help with politics and issue advocacy, but training on communication, messaging, new media, fundraising and website development are highly transferable to all sorts of careers and personal development. Participants can include their attendance at this event and the skills they gained on their résumés. In fact, on Sunday we are having a résumé workshop and internship fair for politics, public service, and issue advocacy nonprofits.”

“Students who have an interest in making a difference in their own lives or lives of those around them can find the skills they may need at the boot camp,” says James McMahon, president of the College Republicans and an Iraqi War U.S. Marine Corps veteran who studies communication studies at URI. “There is no handbook for how to get involved in politics, but we're here and we are making one. Students will have opportunities to learn about the current state of affairs, how to create their own websites, recruit volunteers to a cause, issue advocacy, media and messaging skills, resume building, and more.

“I think it's disheartening that our generation is being typecast as a group who doesn't care. The efforts of the R.I. Student Political Boot Camp committee and the efforts of the students who attend the boot camp will go a long way to dispelling that notion.

An inaugural political boot camp was held last year at Brown University. The camp will be held annually at a Rhode Island institution of higher education on a rotating basis. This year’s planning committee consists of students from Brown University, Rhode Island College, URI, and North Kingstown High School.