Student Global AIDS Campaign Bird-Dog Clinton
Two weeks ago a group of St. Michael’s College students awoke at 5:30 a.m. to drive over three hours from Burlington to Portsmouth, NH in an attempt to reach out to Hillary Clinton. Bird-dogging was on the agenda.
Greg Hamilton ‘16, Meaghan Diffenderfer ‘16, Professor Patricia Siplon, and a handful of other Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) members have all been involved in bird-dogging candidates as they campaign throughout New England for the primary elections.
Bird-dogging is the term used to describe a group of people following, challenging, and questioning someone, especially in politics.
“Campaigning provides a unique opportunity for regular people and higher power people to be together. It’s really easy to have a conversation with them,” Hamilton said.
While bird-dogging Clinton in Portsmouth, Hamilton was able to grab her hand, get her attention, and ask for her support in getting 30 million people on HIV/AIDS treatment by 2020 (see video) to which she responded, “We can do it. We can do it.”
Reaching 30 million people on treatment for HIV/AIDS is the main objective of SGAC, a national organization that has 24 chapters across the country. That would nearly double the number of people currently on HIV/AIDS treatment.
SGAC also works with national and international organizations to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS, and to increase funding for research. The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and The Global Fund are two organizations for which SGAC is campaigning.
Throughout the semester, the SGAC members will be keeping up with other candidates, waiting for them to come to the Northeast. When the opportunity arises, they will again wake in the early hours of morning, drive multiple hours, just to reach out and raise awareness about funding for HIV/AIDS.
Bird-dogging takes a lot of work, hours and dedication, but according to Hamilton, “It’s worked well in the past.”
This article was originally published in the Saint Michael’s College award-winning newspaper, The Defender, in the Fall of 2015.