While they won’t be standing in line at the polls for a few more weeks, some UR students are already anticipating this year’s presidential election with a host of politically-themed events, debate screenings and voter registration drives.
In particular, College Democrats and the College Republicans are aiming to engage UR students in the election process and encourage them to register, and, ultimately vote.
“Besides our weekly meetings, we’re working with the College Democrats and the recently renamed Committee for Political Engagement [CPE] to promote campus-wide presidential and vice presidential debate watch parties, as well as an election night event,” College Republicans President Jason Russell said.
CPE is a separate, neutral campus group that will also promote student involvement in the November election.
According to Russell, College Republicans alreadyheld a screening of last month’s Republican National Convention. And the democrats followed suit.
“We recently held a watch party for the Democratic National Convention, where over 50 students came to Gleason Library to watch Obama accept [the] nomination, so we’re likely to host more watch parties for the upcoming debates,” College Democrats Vice President Nick Pellegrino said.
Both groups have organized voter registration drives in an attempt to further increase this year’s turnout.
“Just last week, several College Democrats … register[ed] over 100 new voters,” he remarked.
“Members of our club will be joining CPE in volunteering at a voter registration table in Wilson Commons on select days between now and the registration deadline on Oct. 12,” Russell said.
Such events seem to have exceeded everyone’s expectations — even students who would typically describe themselves as apolitical have expressed excitement for the nearing election.
“I’m interested in watching the debates because it’s good to hear different perspectives on today’s running issues,” freshman Paige Palmieri said.
Freshman Nathan Nguyen also said he plams to participate in this year’s polls.
“I plan on attending political meetings on campus and individually researching each candidate to determine who I want to vote for,” he said.
These opinions seem to reflect a discernible rise in political engagement among the UR student body.
“Students seem a lot more interested in politics this semester,” Russell said. “We had record attendance at our kick-off meeting last week: almost 50 attendees, which is roughly twice as many as we had at regular meetings last year.”
College Democrats Business Manager Benjamin Stilson said he’s seen a similar surge in support.
“As a club, we have already knocked on over 150 doors in the community, registered over 100 people to vote on campus and hosted a watch party with over 50 [viewers] in attendance,” he explained.
Though Stilson and the group might attribute this upsurge to their hard work, they acknowledge the gravity of this year’s election and the political fervor it has produced amongst students. With so much on the line, they argue, the college demographic has a reason to participate more than ever.
“Knowing that the national debt is set to increase by $6 trillion by 2016 … I do think it’s more important for us to vote now than it was in 2008,” Russell said. “The sooner our generation gets involved and makes politicians pay attention to our issues, the better.”
Dwulit is a member of the class of 2016.