MTV came to UCSB Tuesday afternoon just four days before Halloween, but their cameras were not here to record any wild parties.
Representatives from Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean’s campaign brought an MTV camera crew with them to a meeting at the UCen where they talked to local supporters for the former Vermont governor. Three UCSB students from the UCSB Campus Democrats, three local Dean supporters from the Santa Barbara area and a Santa Barbara City College student attended the event.
The meeting began an hour late, when Zephyr Teachout, Dean’s director of Internet organizing and outreach, Ryan Davis, another member of the campaign staff, and an MTV camera crew arrived to hear what local Democrats have been doing to organize Dean’s grassroots campaign.
Teachout said Dean is running a “bottom-up campaign.” Davis and Teachout are traveling in a renovated 1978 Airstream bus on a trip through more than 100 cities in over 20 states to meet with grassroots Dean organizers, and they will be chronicling their trip in an online web log, or “blog.”
The bus’s trip began in Los Angeles last week at a workers’ strike at a Vons grocery store. UCSB was the bus’s first stop in Santa Barbara.
Teachout led the discussion, asking participants to introduce themselves and explain how they got involved with the Dean campaign while an MTV cameraman recorded the speakers. Teachout spoke to the group about the reason for the cross-country trip.
“The biggest purpose is to see what you’ve been doing, and to brainstorm how we can get students involved,” Treachout said.
Dean’s campaign is based on supporter participation through the Internet. At Dean’s campaign website, >, people can find information on how to organize grassroots networks for him.
“Dean’s campaign has utilized the Internet extensively. The people here today [from the campaign] kind of lead that and it’s revolutionizing the way people campaign,” said senior global studies major Nicholas James Pitney, who attended the meeting.
MTV News is following the Dean bus to determine why this campaign has an appeal to younger voters, Teachout said. She attributes much of the enthusiasm of younger voters to the “Generation Dean” element of the campaign.
“‘Generation Dean’ began in January as Students for Dean; at that time it was independent of the campaign,” Teachout said.
She said Students for Dean was started by college students with a website supporting Dean’s candidacy. Dean’s campaign organizers soon recognized the work Students for Dean was doing and incorporated the organization into the official campaign. Teachout said the group now consists of “over 500 independent community-based organizations, most of which are college-based.”
Campus Democrats Director of Public Affairs Adam Graff said he became a Dean supporter when he began listening to speeches of different Democratic candidates who would “pose a viable threat to Bush [in the 2004 presidential elections].”
“I watched that California Democratic convention speech [that Dean gave] … and I was blown away. He was saying all the things that I had been wanting someone to say for so long,” he said.
At a Campus Democrats meeting later Tuesday evening, President Marissa Brown, who also attended the Dean campaign meeting, expressed surprise at the low turnout.
“It wasn’t what I expected; they asked me to reserve a room for about 20 people, and only a few showed up. I definitely didn’t think MTV was going to be there,” Brown said.
The campus group does not wish to endorse one candidate in particular, in order to avoid alienating members with differing views, Brown said. Instead, she said she encourages all members to organize education campaigns for any of the nine Democratic candidates, while still supporting the “anyone but Bush stance.”
Graff said he intends to start a UCSB chapter of Generation Dean, and that he would like to “build awareness [on campus] by screening Dean speeches.”