SGA vice president brings Obama campaign experience to campus

DePaul boasts on its website, on its promotional material and in its classrooms that a DePaul education is not limited to a desk. The city of Chicago is DePaul’s campus. For some, the idea of a big city being a learning environment is a momentary thought. For Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons, however, it’s something more.

“DePaul preaches that the city is your classroom, so why not use it?” Clemmons stated.

Clemmons has been involved in the city since his freshman year, when he interned in an alderman’s office. He then landed an internship in the mayor’s office last February. Most recently, in June of last year, he worked for the Obama campaign first as a media intern, and in August, he became a paid, full-time staff member up until the election.

“I just went for it,” said Clemmons. “It was a once in a lifetime experience,” he said about working on what he calls a “transformative” campaign.

“The Obama campaign has completely changed the game of campaigning for President of the United States,” said Clemmons. “Everything that they did is going to be really important in the future.”

Clemmons was working around major figures in the race, including Campaign Strategist David Axelrod, Campaign Manger Jim Messina and Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter.

While working downtown at the campaign headquarters, Clemmons was greeted by the vice president once, the first lady twice, and the president several times.

“I shook the president’s hand the first time, and I gave him a hug the second time,” Clemmons said. “It was pretty cool.”

Though working as a staff member for the president kept Clemmons busy with over 60 hours of work a week, he is grateful for the experience, and he credits DePaul providing him with the opportunities and resources to achieve what he has.

“I kind of attribute all those experiences back to the fact that I’m at DePaul and in the city,” said Clemmons. “If I weren’t at DePaul, I probably wouldn’t have done any of these things.”

This year, Clemmons is also acting as the vice president of the Student Government Association (SGA). Clemmons has been ensuring that the committees are working properly, the members are doing everything they need to be doing and the organization is running smoothly.

Through the SGA, Clemmons has helped develop new initiatives, like one making course evaluation data public for all colleges, and has helped preserve the Illinois State Monetary Award Program (MAP).

MAP, an Illinois state funded grant program that used to pay for a student’s entire tuition, is now losing funding.

“Now the amount of funding has been decreasing as tuition at all schools has been increasing,” said Clemmons.

He believes that MAP plays a “vital role” for everyone at DePaul, where one in five students receive assistance.

Clemmons said Illinois resident students going to school in the state who apply for financial aid sooner are more likely to get MAP.

“It’s the same amount for everyone, but once it’s depleted, it’s done. So it’s basically first come, first serve for those that are eligible,” he said.

Clemmons added SGA is having a MAP awareness day in February where students can meet with representatives from the office of financial aid to learn more about resources.

“There we will have a bunch of postcards that we designed with the logo for MAP, ‘Protect MAP… MAP impacts all of us.’ That’s what we’re framing it around because it really does affect all students at DePaul whether or not you receive MAP,” Clemmons said.

While Clemmons is proud of what SGA has done in regards to MAP, their helping instate an extension of library hours and the adding of double-sided printing to printers around campus, he would really like to see more of a community at DePaul.

“Certainly more student affinity (has) been one of our initiatives the past year. It’s pretty broad in general, but building the DePaul community, making people feel like they’re at home, considering we’re such large commuter campus,” said Clemmons. “Building school spirit … is always a big thing on our list.”

Last year, Clemmons believe that his vision grew and evolved when he went on the Vincentian Heritage Tour last year in Paris and learned more about Saint Vincent and the Vincentian Mission.

“One of the biggest things I learned from (the trip) is: what must be done?” he said. “I definitely attribute the general mission of the university, back to how I have gone for things and tried to do things to get myself out there in the city.”

Clemmons’ year is already starting off full of events: He is attending the homecoming dance to represent SGA and then leaving to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration and a few balls for staff members of the campaign.

Above all, Clemmons is thankful to his school for his experiences.

“DePaul’s done a lot for me and I want to make it a better place,” he said. “It sounds clich’ÛΩ, (but) I just want to make it a better place for all students.