Election Month at the University of Florida

University of Florida Students

By Natalie Arrieta
By Natalie Arrieta
Unigo Campus Rep at the University of Florida
Oct. 10, 2008

This October marks the start of the frenzy college campuses go through promoting national politics and the University of Florida is no exception. Just a walk through campus would demonstrate the passion and vigor some students possess with this year’s presidential election. You can rack up flyers from various political groups, encounter students tabling for their preferred candidate, banners, and various other forms of representation.

Voting is somewhat a big deal here at UF — on any given day you could be approached by different groups of students, promoting their candidate, and facilitating the registering to vote process. UF’s political involvement can be attributed to the fact that many students are first time voters. For the majority of students, this will be the first time they will get to vote for the candidate they believe should be the next president.

In general, most college campuses are liberal, and UF is no different. The amount of freedom of speech the administration allows students is insurmountable. Daily protests of opposing religions and political opinions are evidence to that.

In terms of representation, both political parties seem to be well represented in different groups of students on campus. You could generalize students’ political views by college. The Liberal Arts College and Journalism College tend to be more liberal, while conservatives can be found in the Health Professions College, as well as the Business School.

Like the state of Florida, UF’s support of candidates Barack Obama and John McCain is scattered closely throughout campus.

McCain support tends to be prominent with students involved in Greek organizations, while Obama supporters are more vocal and recognized on campus. Both presidential candidates have active support groups on campus with office locations that help phone bank, flyer, and register voters for the remainder of this month. Feelings toward Vice Presidential nominees have met opposition from the rivaling parties, just as in any general opinion.

In an interview with Alli Mead, a member and chapter representative for Gator Greeks for McCain, she discussed the various ways her organization has promoted their candidate on campus and among Greek chapters. The group holds weekly forums discussing different issues at hand, and plan different events to help bring about awareness. Their efforts focus on educating students on McCain’s stance on the issues, and getting 100 percent chapter voter registration regardless of party affiliation. They also try to raise money for the campaign by hosting t-shirt sales.

For Alli and Gator Greeks for McCain, issues of particular importance deal with taxes. Alli believes in a democratic nation where people are not handed everything, where small businesses aren’t taxed higher taxes. Gator Greeks for McCain also stress the importance of military strategy — one which they believe Sen. McCain has a better grasp on.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, UF Students for Barack Obama strive for many of the same accomplishments of their rival organization. Their aim is to raise awareness of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and policies, organize campus resources, register students to vote and help get people involved in the campaign. Primarily a grassroots movement, you can find the group tabling in Turlington Plaza daily helping recruit volunteers, convincing people to vote Democrat, and selling t-shirts. When not on campus, the group can be found canvassing door-to-door or phone banking in an effort to recruit more people to their cause.

The Road to the White House is long and winding and here in Gainesville, UF students are doing all they can to get their candidate of choice to the front door.