Des Moines University Students Ready for Caucus Time

Some students of Des Moines University were able to participate in a class to learn more of what will and could happen on caucus night, and for some of the participants, Monday night will be there first Iowan caucus night.

DMU hosted a 'Caucus 101' event, to ensure students knew what to expect on Monday night. While those hosting the event thought there would be some participation, about 100 students showed up to learn how to become involved in their political community, and each of them was excited to see such a turnout.

Three medical students from DMU and their president were eager to talk about their experiences, the importance of being educated and their political interests and possible candidate choices.

Reeya Patel, a second year medical student with a specialty in Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, said this is going to be her first caucus.

While Patel grew up in the Quad Cities in Iowa, she said did not grow up around politics and was not interested in it until she began medical school. Patel said she joined Student Osteopathic Medical Association, which is a student-run political organization and that started her interest.

"Each year we take students to Washington D.C. for 'DO Day On The Hill'*, that is kinda what sparked my interest. More than anything I am learning more as we go, it has been great," Patel said.

"So this will be definitely be my first caucus, and I don't know where I am going after this so I may not even be in Iowa for residency, it's just up in the air where I get a job, so this definitely could be my one time to get my voice out there," Patel said.

Patel is a first time caucus-goer and Rob Heineman a 1st year medical student, is too.

"I'm from Nebraska, so we get... all the TV (coverage) and such from Iowa but we can't do anything about it. It is pretty awesome to be apart of the process this time," Heineman said.

For students who are not sure if they want to participate, Kyle Jaschen, 2nd year medical student in College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, said participating in an Iowa Caucus could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"You are living here right now, and for those who may go on to residency somewhere else, this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity, is the way I look at it for some people. And living here, is such a unique opportunity, I feel like it is almost a responsibility, to go out there and cast your vote, no matter who it is for," Jaschen said.

For Patel, she thinks there will be more than a 50 percent chance for students showing up on caucus night, too.

"I hear a lot of my friends, who are especially from California, that they want to go because 'when will I ever be in Iowa for caucus ever again?' so I am hoping it is a good turnout," Patel said.

Jaschen said he hopes to see more than 50-50 too, and the second year medical students said he believes the 'Caucus 101' class could help make voters more comfortable.

"It can be really intimidating if you don't know what you are walking into...I am hoping it made people more comfortable, and show up, 'I kinda know what is going on here, and I maybe I can do this," Jaschen said.

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DMU President Angela Franklin said she was happy to support the students who were interested in putting together a class for the upcoming caucus.

"One thing that we can say about our students is that, our students are very active...Which is part of who we are as an institution... I proudly sit on the sidelines and watch them do a lot of great things throughout the year. So them being involved in this sort of went hand and hand with them being very civic minded and active and wanting to be a part of and engaging the community. They represent us well," Franklin said.

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While all three students are medical students, their political views are different.

"We don't have a class on the business and politics of healthcare. So that is something that is foreign to a lot of students still, at this stage in our education," Jaschen said.

"It is a big factor for students when they are graduating and come out with nearly $250,000 in debt. That number just staggers me and so you're right, that's an issue when looking at a political candidate," Jaschen said.

While Jaschen might not have been subject to the conflict between students loans and healthcare issues, as he is on a military scholarship and isn't subject to the healthcare system, Heineman said he sees healthcare from his point of view as a doctor and as a person.

"However, I see kind of the long term thing of taking it a step back, and what would be the best for everybody, the entire population, everyone we have to take care of. A lot of times those are at odds because reform, in my opinion, is necessary," Heineman said.

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To keep up with caucus coverage, follow us on Twitter with the hashtag, #oucovers16. To follow me on Twitter, @glorianoble_.

* 'DO Day on the Hill': "DO Day on Capitol Hill will be held on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Washington, D.C. DO Day provides an exciting opportunity for DOs and osteopathic medical students to come to Washington, D.C. and use their time to educate members of Congress and their staff on who DOs are and why osteopathic medicine is so important," according to the American Osteopathic Association.