|Campus Pols Pull Together to Help Students Become Politically Connected
September 23, 2008
Contact: Emily Matras '12
by Emily Matras '12
As the presidential election draws nearer, efforts on the Davidson College campus are helping students become politically connected. The Young Democrats and College Republicans jointly applied for and received an $8,500 grant from the Improve Davidson Fund to back a nonpartisan effort dubbed "The Political Connection."
|As in 2004, Young Democrats and College Republicans will debate for their candidates from the balconies of the historic Eumenean and Philanthropic literary halls.|
Mike Jucewicz '10, president of the College Republicans, said, "The goal of this project is to bring people on the Davidson campus into the political environment by showing them that the issues that they care most about are changeable through the political process."
Jucewicz and former president of the Young Democrats Lauren Woodall '08 got the grant from the Student Government Association to bring in speakers for political forums, supply refreshments at sponsored events, and provide entertainment and door prizes for an election night party.
One of the major initiatives for the two organizations is to register freshmen to vote. Pairs of student representatives of the two groups plan to visit every freshman residence hall within the next two weeks to distribute voter registration forms and absentee ballots and answer questions.
"Voting is the most basic way for us to effect change in the political arena, and we want to make sure that every Davidson student has that opportunity," Jucewicz said.
Stephen Kalin '09, vice president of the Young Democrats, said, "We hope to register the entire freshman class to vote. Instead of waiting for freshmen to stop by a table by the College Union or outside Chambers, we are actively pursuing them by creating a presence on their halls."
Amanda Vredenburgh '12 is enthusiastic about the registration effort. "I think it's fantastic, if it works," she said. "A lot of times students don't know where to get started, and this makes it easy for them."
The Political Connection project also includes a debate between the Democrats and Republicans, to take place at 2:30 p.m. on October 25, the Saturday of Family Weekend. In traditional Davidson fashion, the debaters will address each other and the audience from the facing balconies of Philanthropic and Eumenean literary halls on the old campus. An election night party on November 4, open to the whole campus, is also in the works.
The two organizations are also sponsoring panels of speakers to address subjects such as environmental issues and the economy, and how they are related to politics. The schedule is:
Monday Sept. 29, "Forum on the Economy." Speakers include Fred Smith, Associate Professor of Economics, and a professional from the financial industry.
Monday Oct. 27, "Point/Counterpoint on Racial Preference and Affirmative Action." Speakers include Carl Cohen, Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan and James Sterba, Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame.
Both panels will take place in the C.Shaw Smith 900 Room.
Panel discussions on religion and environmental policy have already taken place.
"We're doing this for students who aren't apathetic, but are disillusioned with politics," said D.J. Carella '09, president ofthe Young Democrats. "We want to show people who are invested in various causes that their interests are not divorced from the political system."
In addition to the efforts of the Political Connection project, at least three other campus entities have launched election-related activities.
|(l-r) Clint Smith '10 and Manny Clark '09 staff the Alpha Phi Alpha voter registration table outside Chambers Building. |
Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity is registering students to vote at a table outside of Chambers every weekday until the election, and plans to offer transportation to the polls on election day. "This is something we've been doing for years," said Manny Clark '09, president of APA. "Our fraternity is dedicated to this service. We want to make sure that when people step up to a ballot, they can make the most informed choice."
The newly-approved Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity plans to sponsor an election forum focusing on issues important to college students. It will be held on Thursday evening, October 30, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Panelists will include Associate Professor of Political Science Susan Roberts, Associate Professor of History Daniel Aldridge, representatives from College Republicans and Young Democrats and a Kappa Alpha Psi member.
Librarians Sara Lee Enders and Jan Blodgett have put together an extensive online list of election resources they call "Vote 2008."
Blodgett noted, "Davidson is an official government documents repository, and that gives us access to a tremendous amount of useful information about the election. We've tried to pull all the resources together in one place to make it easier for students and others to access. It should be useful for anyone with interest in the current election, or any other election in US history."
The library also plans to mount an exhibit of Davidson-related election memorabilia. It will include polls printed in the Davidsonian, a picture of Rose Kennedy visiting campus to campaign for her son, and campaign material for Jim Martin '57 who launched his political career as a Davidson chemistry professor.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students located 20 minutes north of Charlotte in Davidson, N.C. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently regarded as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Through The Davidson Trust, the college became the first liberal arts institution in the nation to replace loans with grants in all financial aid packages, giving all students the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Davidson competes in NCAA athletics at the Division I level, and a longstanding Honor Code is central to student life at the college.
Posted By: Bill Giduz