The Political Atmosphere On Denison’s Campus

Denison Students

By Features Editor
By Liz Haughton
Unigo Campus Rep at Denison
Oct. 15, 2008

On the night of Oct. 2, something was buzzing in the air on Denison’s campus. The library, usually packed on a Thursday night, was eerily empty. Around 8:30 p.m., nearly everyone had filed out for one specific purpose. Was it the Ohio State/Michigan football game? Or was it a massive ice cream sundae bar being offered at the student center? No, it was the vice presidential debate.

At the height of this buzz was Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and her recent interview with Katie Couric. Many pondered whether she would be more prepared when discussing foreign policy, a topic that brought in a lot of criticism from her earlier interview. Whether students were watching to decide whom to vote for, or were simply watching for entertainment value, politics were the talk of the hill at Denison University.

After several students around Denison’s campus were asked who they will vote for come Election Day, many seem undecided. Those that are sure of whom they will vote for seem to be leaning towards Barack Obama. Many of their reasons included different versions of, “He brings hope for the future” and, “He will fix what the Bush presidency failed at.” However, every once in a while you will find an avid John McCain fan, such as sophomore Kyle Bliss from New Jersey.

“McCain brings the experience that Obama lacks,” Bliss said.

As the race narrows down to only a few more weeks, those that fit into the undecided category will continue to receive more and more opportunities to learn about each candidate on both the national and local level.

Denison has done a worthy job this fall bringing the election to campus. A bus visited campus in early September carrying both the Ohio governor and Ohio senator in an attempt to gain the students’ support for Obama. The library and student center have each made voter registration forms available for students to fill out to become voters in Ohio. I had already registered as an absentee voter in my home state of New Jersey, but once I found out how important the Ohio votes are being such a swing state, I decided to register in Ohio. Denison has made it clear just how much our vote counts as students and have made it as easy as possible for us to register.

While the school has provided the means for signing up, several student groups have done their part in promoting the candidate of their choice. The College Republicans have a dual role on campus — promoting McCain and promoting conservative issues. The president of College Republicans, junior Nick Flocken, describes his role in endorsing McCain as being involved in local campaigns throughout Granville and Licking County and passing along information such as appearances and fundraisers concerning McCain to the other members of the group.

The Democratic clubs at Denison have it slightly easier because there are two of them: the Denison Democrats and Denisonians for Obama. Both groups work together but the Denisonians for Obama’s prime focus is gaining support for Obama, whereas the Denison Democrats works on spreading their party’s views throughout campus.

“For undecided voters, we have a dinner on Monday October 20th, 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Knapp 104,” said Amanda Moore, president of the Denison Democrats. “It's "Meet Obama Night," and we'll eat, listen to faculty and students describe why they're voting for Barack, and then watch a quick film about Barack's background."

Denison has always had a very politically active campus, but this election has definitely caused a spread in the amount of political involvement throughout its students. Even those that are undecided have still made an effort to register, so that they can vote once they had made up their mind. Students want to have an impact in the future of our country, and the best way to go about this is choosing the leader that will change our country for the better.

The other day, there was a forum at the main academic quad with different groups and organizations, such as the environmental and economics clubs, reading aloud each candidate’s policies on various topics. The point of the forum was not to persuade — it was simply to inform the undecided about where each candidate stands. By hosting events like this, Denison is doing its part in getting the student vote out there because it is our vote that matters the most.