Published 01/06/16

Bryant delegation takes ringside seat on presidential campaign trail

It is not every day that a college student gets a chance to mingle with some of the biggest names in politics, but more than 20 Bryant students had the opportunity when they traveled to Manchester, N.H., for the New Hampshire Primary Student Convention, which opens the state's primary process to students from all over the country.

Bryant students with Chris Christie“Coming from New Hampshire, politics has always been a big topic of discussion,” says Samantha Puckett ’16 of Canterbury, N.H. “I jumped on this opportunity to possibly meet some of the candidates and network with political figures.”

During the convention, held Jan. 4-6, the Bryant students – each of them either a political science major, minor, or concentrator – had a ringside seat to everything that has to do with presidential politics. They met the candidates, learned about campaigning, and witnessed the media frenzy.

“This is a valuable experience for students because it allowed them to see first hand how the political process works. They were able to meet the presidential candidates and become a part of the primary process,” said Associate Professor of Political Science Nicole Freiner, Ph.D. Spending the time together in New Hampshire  “allows them to create a sense of community with each other,” she added.

Students met with presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders and Chris Christie, and participated in seminars on open democracy, drug reform, climate change and the history of the primary.

“Politics has always been an interest of mine,” said Christopher Buccheri ’18. “My father and I always tend to disagree when it comes to politics. I want to learn more about how we can improve the processes behind American politics so that we can reach more consensus and less partisanship.”

Christian Debeauport ’16, on the other hand, has "never really been heavily involved in politics, but I latched onto it after taking a class as a junior. I’ve never been involved in the voting process before, so I’m just excited to get my feet wet.”

“The event will be very easy to weave into my teaching," said Freiner. "As a comparative politics scholar, understanding the way the political process works is an important facet of my teaching. Primaries allow us to see the political parties and their platforms, to understand the importance of communicating ideas which in this country is vital for individual candidates. The information this experience will give me will surely help tell this story to students.”

The Bryant contingent attended the convention thanks to a grant from the national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.