At 4:30 p.m. last Friday, Alyssa Rosenberg ’06 was not hanging out or preparing for a party. Instead, she was delivering little blue pamphlets to rooms in Silliman as part of a voter participation drive.
The drive has two objectives — to encourage students to register to vote for the Connecticut primary on Feb. 26 and to boost Rosenberg’s campaign for co-chair of Ward 22.
“It’s a good move for more visibility on campus,” said Michael Kenneth ’07, a member of the Kerry Coalition at Yale. “Anything to raise voter registration is great.”
In a vote drive, participants go door-to-door asking students to register to vote and providing information on the candidates.
Referred to as “canvassing,” participants visit students who have previously registered to vote in Connecticut. In the recently redistricted Ward 22, which includes Silliman, Timothy Dwight, Morse, Stiles, and Swing Space, the list currently includes about 200 student names, Rosenberg said. Ward 22 also includes the Dixwell neighborhood.
Rosenberg is a staff columnist for the Yale Daily News.
This is the second canvassing project in which Rosenberg has been involved. Using a long list of e-mail addresses, Rosenberg asks for volunteers from numerous political groups including the Kerry Coalition and the Yale College Democrats.
“It’s about building coalitions and partnerships, to bring groups together,” Whitney Haring-Smith ’07, who helped with the voter registration effort, said. “We hope to include social service and community service groups as well.”
With the help of five students — Kenneth, Haring-Smith, George Hager SOM ’04, Beth France ’06, and Phoebe Rounds ’07, who is Rosenberg’s deputy treasurer — Rosenberg was able to cover all five colleges in Ward 22.
Rather than run alone, Rosenberg decided to join with Shaneane Ragin, a homeowner in the Dixwell neighborhood. Rosenberg said she hopes that by running together, the pair can build a better relationship between Yale and New Haven.
“We’re doing something that’s never been done in New Haven before,” Rosenberg said. “But it makes sense, [Yale students and New Haven residents] have the same concerns whether it’s speeding or drugs.”
Although there are many students in Ward 22, Rosenberg said she tries to get to know her prospective constituents. By going from suite to suite, Rosenberg said she tries to converse with everyone, and if they are absent, she writes a short message on the pamphlet.
“Writing notes seems silly, but we try to make things as personal as we can,” Rosenberg said. “I wish the campaign were longer so that I could get to know everyone better.”
The Ward 22 election will be held on March 2, where Rosenberg and Ragin will be running in a three part race against another pair — former Ward 22 alderwoman Mae Ola Riddick and Douglas Bethea — as well as Cornelia Thorpe.
Rosenberg said she and Ragin will continue to campaign both around Dixwell and in the residential colleges. Though she admits it is a lot of work, Rosenberg said campaigning has been a good experience to become involved with the New Haven community.
“I feel like people are really ready for the election and excited for it,” Rosenberg said. “I love feeling like I have a neighborhood instead of just a residential college.”