The Political Atmosphere at Colorado State

Colorado State Students

By Melissa Shock
By Melissa Shock
Unigo Campus Rep at Colorado State University
Oct. 15, 2008

“Just please vote!”

Volunteers from Vote CSU!, , a coalition on campus who’s goal is to register 10,000 students to vote, are begging students as they walk through the plaza- one of Colorado State’s busiest passing locations. It’s just weeks before Election Day, and the volunteers are eager to hit their goal.

Through “Rocking Registration” events, “Voter Blitz”,” Storm the Dorms”, phone banking, and setting up at football games, Vote CSU! (along with fellow campus groups Students for Obama and Progressive Future) have registered over 6,500 students.

CSU — Obama  The editor-in-chief, Aaron Montoya, of the Collegian, Colorado State’s student run newspaper, said “this is encouraging because it shows that the previously apathetic youth are coming alive to participate in their future.” Although Vote CSU! did not meet its goal, they are extremely impressed with the student excitement and the general political environment on campus.

With the election less than a month away there’s been a noticeable increase in political buzz. On a campus of nearly 28,000 students, the enthusiasm can seem even more intense. Colorado State has established Young Democratic and College Republican clubs and there have been a handful of other political coalitions that have been created this year- all of which are very active and visible on campus- constantly hosting events and meetings.

Mandi Asay, president of the Young Democrats (YD), said that “it’s a big election year and students are pumped!” She talks about all the events that the YD have been putting on in the past few months. “We put on an event called Blue Thursday on the plaza every couple weeks” she said. “We have local candidates come and do meet and greets with students. I think it’s really important to make students know that they need to go all the way down the ballot, so that’s why we are really promoting the local democrats.”

For example, Bob Bacon has come and served BLTs to students. They like to keep it light and fun, but also want to the students to get more involved at the local level. The YD also puts on weekly meetings where everyone is encouraged to come. They do presentations and feature local candidates.

Last Saturday, celebrities Eva Longoria, Alex Rodriguez and Kal Penn visited CSU to speak about voter registration, and emphasized Colorado’s importance in the election, pointing out our swing state status. Hundreds of students packed the auditorium as the three stars focused their speeches on student votes and involvement in the election.

Specific issues that play a special role for college students are the environment, health care, higher education, and amendments at the local level. “As a woman I have been paying special attention to Amendment 48,” Asay said, adding, “honestly if that passes, I may move to Europe!”

Another hot topic is Amendment 58, directly influencing Colorado’s higher education funding. Director of Legislature Affairs Seth Walter knows how important it is to make students aware of all the issues. Walter and his team put together a two page pamphlet with pros and cons of all the amendments and legislature. They also plan to teach several hour long classes to educate student voters. This is especially important considering this is Colorado’s biggest ballot in history- with up to 19 state and local initiatives.

On Colorado State’s campus, there is an astounding presence in support for Barack Obama.

“Students want change. They don’t want another four years of the same politics. Student interests align more with Obama’s politics,” Asay said.

It is also worth mentioning that Obama has done an incredible job at reaching out to the youth vote. By appealing to the college-aged generation through text-messaging and modern media, he has taken small steps that may end up making a huge difference.

National voting officials said that CSU’s coalition rates in the top 10 of higher education campuses that have registered the highest percentage of university student population. Young people are more aware and active than ever before. Currently, there are nearly 50 million 18-29 year olds in the United States. This is the highest number that has been eligible to vote since 1984. That means that our age group could significantly influence the election if we turn out in large numbers. In this year’s primary there was a 5% increase in the number of youth voters since the primaries in 2004. This proves the increasing interest young people have in this election as voting becomes more of a priority. As the priority of voting continues to rise, political organizations continue to beg, “Please just vote!”