Nebraska Students Jump on Political Bandwagon

University of Nebraska Students

By Lindsey Givens

By Lindsey Givens
Unigo Campus Rep at UNL

It is in the residence halls where students are playing Xbox; it is the union where students are grabbing lunch; it is even in classroom discussions facilitated by professors; it is political debate, and it is everywhere at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall.

“I think it is obvious students are more involved because young people everywhere are talking about this election,” said Courtney Lyons, Vice President for the UNL Young Democrats. “That is also reflected here at UNL.”

“I think that both candidates are really trying to target younger audiences,” said Trevor Nieveen, Vice President for the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (ASUN), UNL’s student government. “College students have been a valuable part of candidates’ campaign strategies by attending caucuses and putting on promotional events to support their candidate.”

The election involvement at UNL has been greatly influenced by many campus organizations promoting voting.

According to Lyons, the Young Democrats have had Obama speech parties and a party for the debate. In addition, the group has been going door to door and making phone calls promoting the local Democratic candidates as well as the presidential candidate. The Young Democrats also held a mock election to help educate students, not only on voting, but also on the candidates.

The College Republicans, which have been largely inactive in the past few years, have made a push to get back involved in the campus. According to Steve Curtright, President of the College Republicans, involvement in the group is rapidly growing, and right now they are working jointly with the Young Democrats to organize a voter drive.

The party-affiliated organizations on campus are not the only groups to be affecting students’ election involvement. Residence hall staffs throughout campus are promoting the election by putting up signs and information about voting and the candidates.

ASUN has also scheduled large-scale events to promote awareness. The group helped to sponsor a Rock the Vote on Sept.26, featuring voter registration, music, and food. They are also currently working on hosting a mock debate with students stepping in as representatives for their candidate.  Nieveen said ASUN does not support a particular candidate but they are promoting student activism.

So with UNL students being influenced by various groups, where do they stand politically?

According to a Lincoln Journal Star article from March 2008, the local paper for the city of Lincoln, in the state of Nebraska, Republicans outnumber Democrats 3 to 2. But the UNL faculty reflects a different view. In the UNL faculty, Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1, making the campus a liberal oasis in the vast Republican desert of Nebraska.

With the conservative community surrounding them and the liberal education students are getting at UNL, the overall atmosphere here is mostly moderate.

“The Students for Obama and the Young Democrats have very loud voices,” Curtright said. “My four years have taught me a lot of students are moderate.”

The one thing Lyons, Nieveen, and Curtright agree on, regardless of their views, is that the economy has quickly become the issue students seem to be concerned about.

“The economy is especially important,” Nieveen said. “People always think about who is going to affect their pocket book the most.”