Political Hen Fever at UD
University of Delaware Students
By Lindsey Spina
Unigo Campus Rep at Delaware
Blue and gold have recently taken a backseat to blue and red.
Campuses around the country are gearing up for election season, and the University of Delaware is no exception.
As the elections draw near, for both President and Delaware Officials, students are becoming more vocal of their beliefs. Between shirts that read “Women Deserve Better than Abortion” to McCain/Palin pins and Obama ’08 bumper stickers, UD students are taking the opportunity to advertise their pick.
Sophomore Jenny Baransky said she recognized an increase in political apparel around campus.
“I’ve definitely noticed a lot more students wearing shirts advertising their Presidential pick,” Baransky said. “A lot of ‘Barack the Vote’ or ‘No Pain No McCain’ is what I normally see.”
Pro-Obama attire describes the general political viewpoint of the University; typically, students sway more toward the Democratic side.
An example of this occurred this past May when an anti-war protest occurred in Newark.
“I saw about 10 protesters walking up and down Main Street shouting and holding anti-Iraq posters,” Baransky said. “As a Republican, I definitely feel outnumbered by Democratic students.”
Despite feeling like the minority, Republicans aren’t giving up just yet. Junior Bill Rivers, Vice President of the College Republicans at UD, said the CRs are still involved in the Presidential election.
“We hope to promote ideas and principles of the Republican Party, regardless of the Republican population on campus,” Rivers said.
Still, because Delaware is Democratic vice president candidate Joe Biden’s home state, Rivers admitted most of the College Republican’s efforts are being put toward the state’s public elections.
“We provide help with volunteers for the 2008 Presidential election, but John McCain can help John McCain,” he said. “I call it proper allocation of resources.”
So far, Rivers said he feels the College Republicans have been successful at UD.
“When I was a freshman two years ago, Delaware was the fourth politically apathetic school in the county,” he said. “We’ve shaken things up a bit; we were recently granted full funding from the University, and as a result hold rallies, debates and protests.”
Rivers also said on Monday September 22nd, the Delaware College Republicans took a trip to Media, Pennsylvania to see the McCain-Palin rally.
“Delaware is at the center of a political hurricane right now,” he said. “We feel it is our obligation to promote political awareness around this campus.”
While the College Republicans are putting most of their resources into Delaware public elections, the College Democrats are Obama campaigning at full force.
“The young have always been strong advocates for the Democratic Party, and that’s what we are here to encourage,” said senior Paul Ruiz, President of the CDs. “We want to motivate students to change our world.”
Between debate-watching parties, kiosks in the Student Centers, a political fair and a blog, the College Democrats are actively encouraging students to participate - and it’s working.
“We started the semester with 430 students on our e-mail list, and it has grown to over a thousand,” Ruiz said. “The numbers are exponentially growing and it’s really exciting to see.”
The College Democrats also strongly encourage everyone to register and vote.
“A main thing we do is phone banking, where we call people in Delaware and ask if they are registered to vote,” said junior Amy Kilgallin, secretary of the CDs. “If they’re not, we offer them the opportunity to do so.”
While the numbers for the College Democrats may be increasing, some students feel UD is not politically involved enough.
“I came to Delaware because I wanted to be on the East Coast where it’s typically liberal,” freshman Kelly Ehrenreich said. “I expected much more energy here but it’s really one of the most apathetic places I’ve seen.”
Ehrenreich also said because of UD’s location, she expected more of a political atmosphere.
“Delaware is the first state, which makes us emotionally closer to the Constitution,” she said. “It’s also at the epicenter of the election with Philadelphia, DC, and New York so close, so I don’t understand why more students aren’t politically involved.”
Although some feel UD is apathetic, students have been getting involved in the student organization Youth Voice, to help encourage others to get involved in the political process.
“Youth Voice is a non-partisan group that tries to raise awareness among students and encourage them to vote,” said Rebecca Riley, secretary of Youth Voice. “We don’t care what you believe, as long as you believe something.”
Riley said Youth Voice will hold a fair in late October consisting of panels, speakers, and a registration table.
“You form your habits early in life, so we try to get students to start voting as early as possible,” she said. “Soon we won’t be the youth vote anymore, so it’s important to start now.”