A Call for Campus Unity

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A Call for Campus Unity

Please help prove the Founders right and assert that this great American experiment was not a misguided one. We are better than this. Regardless of whom you supported in the primary, it is time to unite around Hillary Clinton this November.

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Still Ready


Still Ready

Since announcing her candidacy in April 2015, I’ve been with her. Unapologetically. Unashamed. Proud.  Some would like you to believe that my excitement for Secretary Clinton is not the norm. I don’t buy it.


Why I'm Ready


Why I'm Ready

"I can think of nothing more powerful to tell my daughters and granddaughters than how my generation worked day and night to not only put a woman in the White House, but to put the foremost champion of women’s rights there."



Ready for Hillary founder talks 2016 fund raising


September 29, 2015

Adam Parkhomenko, national director of grassroots engagement at Hillary for America, spoke at Penn last night at the invitation of Penn Democrats. The room was crowded with more students than seats — evidence of growing political interest on Penn’s campus in light of the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Parkhomenko has been actively supporting Hillary Clinton since the age of 17, when he launched VoteHillary.org to convince Clinton to run for president in 2004. He supported her again in 2008 as a staffer on her presidential campaign.

In January 2013, Parkhomenko and professor Allida Black of George Washington University created Ready for Hillary, the first Super PAC of the 2016 election season. Ready for Hillary was also the first Super PAC created for a candidate who had yet to declare an intent to run. Parkhomenko likened Ready for Hillary to a train station saying, “We didn’t know if the train was coming, but we wanted to be ready if it did.”

Despite starting a Super PAC, Parkhomenko is not a fan of big money in politics and set Ready for Hillary's contribution cap at $25,000. Ready for Hillary emphasized a bottom-up grassroots approach and created a widespread network to campaign in all 50 states. “Direct mail is good for reading while walking to the trash can,” said Parkhomenko, highlighting the benefits of a grassroots campaign over mass media options such as direct mail. Ready for Hillary's approach proved to be highly successful, raising $15 million and creating a network of four million people.

As promised, Ready For Hillary handed over its resources to Hillary for America immediately after Hillary Clinton launched her second presidential bid in April.A few weeks before Hillary Clinton's official campaign announcement, Parkhomenko joined the campaign team as the national director of grassroots engagement at Hillary for America. His job revolves around managing, assisting or connecting groups and resources for Hillary’s campaign in all except four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. 

Multiple students asked  Parkhomenko how Clinton’s campaign intends to distance itself from Clinton's image as an establishment candidate, referring to some Americans who don't want a professional politician to “inherit” the White House. Parkhomenko countered that if she were the establishment candidate, then Ready for Hillary and similar campaign efforts wouldn’t be necessary.

Parkhomenko outlined three ways students can contribute to Clinton’s campaign: Students can find volunteer opportunities on Clinton's website, follow her and defend her on social media or join Penn for Hillary.



Penn for Hillary welcomes 55 students to first meeting


Penn for Hillary welcomes 55 students to first meeting

Penn for Hillary held its first general body meeting for the fall 2015 semester on Tuesday, September 8th.  We were thrilled to welcome 55 students, and make a presentation on Penn for Hillary's achievements and goals.

Penn for Hillary announced that it is forming a steering committee comprised of students who will join and lead the group's organizing, communication, digital, political, and social teams. 





Guest column by Robert Klein | Our voice in 2016: Why Hillary is the best choice for President


April 13, 2015

Here at Penn, it’s all too easy to get caught up in our immediate to-do lists. In 2016, our campus will be caught up in our foremost national duty: electing the 45th President of the United States. We support Hillary Clinton for President because she has the experience, vision and new ideas necessary for an American-led 21st century.

Penn played a substantial role in electing President Barack Obama in 2008 and rallied to re-elect him in 2012. Now, we must build upon President Obama’s accomplishments by supporting Secretary Clinton. From social progress to the Supreme Court, critical issues are at stake in 2016.

As Hillary declared in her campaign kickoff video, “Americans have fought back from tough economic times, but the deck is stacked in favor of those at the top.” Delivering lasting economic opportunity is among the most important challenges that we face as a nation. Consider our own budding careers in the context of an America in which millions struggle to meet basic needs. Priorities like raising the minimum wage and investing in research will help build an economy that works for everyone. And ultimately that will benefit the organizations that we join and lead.

Let us not forget the social progress we have made in the last few years — that is what is at stake in this election. In 2011, when this year’s graduating class first arrived at Penn, just six states and the District of Columbia granted full marriage equality. Now, thanks to the hard work done by activists on campuses like ours, over 70 percent of Americans live in the 36 states where loving LGBTQ couples can make a lifetime commitment to one another. With the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, we have advanced women’s chances to fight for fair pay. Now, as Hillary Clinton shatters that highest, hardest glass ceiling, it is time for Congress to enact a law that finally ensures equal pay for equal work.

No one is better prepared to lead our country than Hillary Clinton. As a mother, lawyer, First Lady, senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has worked tirelessly to champion students, families and the middle class. As First Lady, she worked with Congress to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helps millions of underprivileged children access healthcare. In her first year in the Senate, Clinton secured $21 billion to rebuild New York after 9/11. And as Secretary of State, she brought an international coalition together to impose the harsh sanctions on Iran that eventually forced the regime to negotiate. Throughout her career, when Hillary Clinton set out to make a difference, she delivered. That is why she will make an effective president.

This campaign is about building an America that, in 10 years, will be where our kids go to great schools, where our parents find a secure retirement and where we feel safe on all of our streets. This is about achieving more than what’s probable by striving to do what’s possible. Hillary said it best herself; she is going to be our champion for an America in which “you can do more than just get by — you can get ahead, and stay ahead.”

In 1993, Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, delivered a rousing commencement address here at the University of Pennsylvania. The New York Times reported that she emphasized the strengths of our institution by imploring, “What we have to do here at this university and in this country is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.” We couldn’t agree more.

Join Penn for Hillary as we do our part to make history in 2016.



Hillary Clinton announces presidential bid


April 13, 2015

In news that surprised hardly any political observer, Hillary Rodham Clinton officially announced her campaign to be the next president of the United States.

On Sunday, Clinton’s campaign team released a two-minute video featuring groups of American families sharing personal stories about their plans to take on new endeavors. Ninety seconds into the video, Clinton appeared on screen to announce her campaign.

“Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” she said.

Clinton’s opening message highlighted the importance of income inequality to her campaign.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” she said in the video.

For the students involved in Penn for Hillary, an advocacy group for Clinton’s campaign, the announcement serves as a call to action.

“We are very ecstatic. We have been waiting for this movement for ten months. Ever since canvassing a summer ago, we have been waiting for this moment,” College sophomore and co-founder of Penn for Hillary Emily Irani said.

Irani and fellow College sophomore Mitchell McVeigh founded Penn for Hillary at the beginning of the fall semester. Their group has been advocating for Clinton’s nomination all year by hosting speakers and drawing awareness to her campaign.

“We want to try to increase support for Hillary on campus, whether it’s [by] convincing people that Hillary is the best candidate or increasing voter turnout,” McVeigh said.

The group’s members also plan to meet Clinton’s campaign staff to further combine their efforts. They anticipate making a trip to Washington, D.C., in the near future to facilitate more coordination.

“We want to get involved with the campaign. We want to participate in phone banks and reach out wherever the campaign wants and needs us,” Irani said.

Penn for Hillary also hopes to capitalize on the attention the Democratic primary has brought to Philadelphia — which will host the Democratic National Convention in 2016 — while still remaining cautious about her electoral chances.

“Just because Hillary declared does not mean she has the nomination by any means. Up until she gets enough delegates, all of our work for Penn for Hillary will be separate from the DNC,” McVeigh said.

Clinton, who lost the 2008 Democratic nomination for president to Barack Obama, will face much less visible opposition in 2016.

Various polls place her well atop the sparse Democratic field of candidates. An April 2 poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post had Clinton leading the Democratic field with 66 percent of the vote, 54 points ahead of the second-place candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who recently announced that she was not seeking the nomination.

Clinton’s challengers from the Republican Party include Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul so far. The Republican National Committee has already publicly opposed Clinton’s campaign on Friday with the release of a 30-second advertisement entitled #StopHillary. The video highlighted controversies that Republicans will likely target during the campaign, including Clinton’s response to the shootings in Benghazi, Libya and her use of a private email account as former secretary of state.

Without any other declared Democratic challengers, Clinton currently has the stage.



Penn's first PAC forms out of Penn Ready for Hillary


February 26, 2015

Volunteering, donating and raising awareness for political candidates are common modes of student political activism. But a new group of Penn students are taking a different approach: forming a political action committee.

On Feb. 10, the Federal Elections Committee officially approved Philadelphia Students for Progress, the recently created student PAC.

“The reason why we want to do it is so we can fundraise and help support grassroots campaigns,” said College sophomore and Philadelphia Students for Progress co-chair Mitch McVeigh. “A lot of corporate and special interests can influence politics by creating their own super PACs and donating money to campaigns or to specific advertisements supporting candidates. However, students really haven’t been involved with that, and I think this is a great way for students to become more actively involved in politics.”

A PAC is a committee that can raise and spend money for political purposes, usually to elect and defeat candidates.

A student-formed PAC is rare, but not completely unprecedented. Earlier this year, for instance, a senior at Claremont McKenna College created a PAC named Millennials for Jeb, which is fundraising for Jeb Bush to run in 2016. However, Philadelphia Students for Progress is the first PAC started by Penn students.

Philadelphia Students for Progress came to fruition when some of the members of Penn for Hillary — a student group focused on supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2016 — decided to take a new route in supporting Democratic causes and political engagement on a wider level.

“What we do for Penn for Hillary is more about getting support on campus,” said Philadelphia Students for Progress Co-Chair Emily Irani, a College sophomore. “But with this PAC, it broadens our horizons a bit with any sort of Philadelphia politics, whether it is with senators or congressional campaigns or the mayoral campaign.”

McVeigh and Irani hope that the PAC will allow their advocacy to transcend campus. “The PAC is more of a professional way to do it,” Irani added. “The PAC is a way to make it easier to solicit money from people but with a wider goal.”

For a PAC to form, it must register with the FEC by providing a name, address, treasurer and affiliated organizations. The FEC regulates that, per election, a PAC can give up to $5,000 to a candidate committee, up to $15,000 annually to a national party committee and up to $5,000 to another PAC.

“We’ve just started soliciting this week,” McVeigh said, adding that they have raised $70 and hope to raise somewhere between $500 and $1,000 by the end of the semester. “We are really trying to reach out to alumni, because they would probably be more receptive to it.”

While the co-chairs declined to name any candidates to whom they plan to donate, their focus will be on donating to Democrats and liberal organizations.

“The goal is to support student political organizations devoted to building grassroots support for Democratic candidates,” McVeigh said. “If a lot of colleges started doing this ... it would increase youth voter turnout and it would give them a more active voice in politics because students — although a lot of the time they volunteer on campaigns — often don’t turn out to vote. But if they were to have a more proactive voice, I think certain interests, like student loans, might be addressed more.”




One new student group is 'Ready for Hillary'


November 19, 2014

While Democrats lost the senate in the midterm elections, Democratic students have a plan for how to keep the White House in 2016: Hillary Clinton.

Penn Ready for Hillary, a student-led group that was formed at the beginning of the semester, has become an active political group on campus. The group acts as a campus representative of Ready for Hillary, a national super political action committee that raises and spends money in an effort to elect Clinton in 2016, if she decides to run.

“This organization is completely centered around action,” College sophomore and Penn for Hillary’s Director of External Affairs Paul-Julien Burg said. “Penn for Hillary is really an organization to promote being engaged in politics. It’s also making sure that the hopeful-President Hillary Clinton will have an established network that can help her.”

While early efforts this semester focused on the Penn community, Penn for Hillary has recently began to look beyond Penn. In the last month, the group has teamed up with students from Drexel Univerisity and Bryn Mawr College to canvass and “discuss strategies for building and increasing support on both of our campuses,” Mitchell McVeigh, College sophomore and co-president of Penn for Hillary, said .

Clinton has consistently remained the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. According to an October poll by ABC News/Washington Post in Iowa, a crucial state for any presidential candidate, 63.4 percent of Democrats support Clinton, 11.4 percent support Vice President Joe Biden and 9.8 percent support Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

While the election remains nearly two years away, initial efforts by Democratic supporters have solidified Clinton as the Democratic frontrunner, with college campuses playing an integral role.

“A lot of the work we are doing of working with students for Hillary is really to build this group and movement from the ground up, to run this campus organization, and to get out there and spread the word,” Rachel Schneider, director of Ready for Hillary’s Young Americans program, said. “We are building a national movement to show Hillary the support she has all over the country and that people want to see her run, and to build the kind of base that people need should she run for president.”

“The University of Pennsylvania students for Hillary team has actually been one of our strongest, and it has been really exciting to see the work that students are doing on your campus,” Schneider added.

Ready for Hillary has an early lead in fundraising and support. According to the Federal Election Commission, Ready for Hillary raised $2 million and spent $2.1 million from July 1 to Sept. 30. In contrast, RAND PAC, a super PAC supporting potential presidential nominee Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), raised $480,363 and spent $598,000 during the same period. RAND PAC did not respond to a request for comment.

“I strongly believe she will be our best candidate going forward, even if you don’t agree with everything she believes in,” Burg said. “There is so much to do, and the very least Penn for Hillary can offer is a network of people who are all interested in these issues.”