The Political Climate at UC-Irvine

UCI Students

By Kareem Barghouti, Sandra Lee, And Perry Yates
By Kareem Barghouti, Sandra Lee and Perry Yates
Unigo Campus Reps at UCI
Oct. 10, 2008

As reported by Sandra Lee

UCI Aldrich
Members of the UCI community passing time in Aldrich Park. The level of excitement for this year’s presidential election is relatively low. 

The political climate at UCI has not been very active recently. Students appear to be apathetic towards the election, as they are with anything else. The problem at UCI is that students tend to be apathetic towards important issues that concern everyone.

When you’re a student at UCI, it feels like you’re living in an Irvine bubble, and it is very hard to get out of this bubble unless you take your own initiative. However, the historical and sensational election this year has inspired more political activity on campus than ever before. During the primaries, many students passed out fliers encouraging students to vote — sometimes pointing out Barack Obama or John McCain as the choice candidate. Orange County is known to be predominantly Republican, but the voters on campus during the primaries leaned towards the left and gave the vote to Obama.

As reported by Kareem Barghouti

When Democratic headquarters opened up across the street from campus in the University Center, I decided to check it out and see if students were walking in and showing interest in of the offerings. I am pleased to say that many students have been visiting the headquarters for reasons such as registering to vote and general questions they have about the elections.

As reported by Sandra Lee

I had the chance to speak with The New University’s photography editor, Drew, about the current political atmosphere on campus. He agreed that there has been more political activity on campus than any other time before, but overall, the campus is indifferent towards politics. Drew expressed that the election is not very relevant to students’ lives since most of them are completely consumed by school.

The newspaper has no strategy for covering the election, but it is endorsing a candidate for the first time ever. The photo editor implied that the newspaper will most likely endorse Barack Obama.

As reported by Perry Yates

I also got the chance to speak with Tiffany Go, vice president of Student Services for the Associated Students of UC-Irvine (ASUCI). During our discussion of the political climate on campus, she emphasized the point that UCI students seem to “know what they’re talking about when it comes to politics.”

Although it seems that UCI students are not as fervently engrossed in politics as students at more politically active schools, Tiffany mentioned the fact that UCI students are more concerned about the fact that everyone will vote, regardless of their political concerns. During our conversation I also got the chance to see if she felt that students were more active individually or as a group. Tiffany said that it feels like more of an individual effort because students wearing Obama t-shirts is such a common occurrence on campus and that she hasn’t seen any major group activity for McCain or Obama yet this year.

Her thoughts on the election definitely reinforce my own feelings. In previous years it was clear that certain groups on campus were marketing and disseminating their own specific agendas to the campus. Examples of this include the Muslim Student Union advocating for the rights of Palestinian residents, Anteaters for Israel promoting the freedom and rights of Israel, the College Republicans bringing Ann Coulter to the school to give a talk about liberals, and the Worker Student Alliance holding a rally on campus for the promotion of on-campus Aramark workers.

Paradoxically, this year, a major election year, has not seemed as political. In true Orange County fashion, the only promotion for one candidate over the other has come in the form of fashionable Obama shirts that state either “Hope,” “Change,” or “Progress.” If this is any indication of the political scales on our campus then the weight is enormously in favor of Obama — unless McCain can pull a midnight upset by coming out with his own brand of shirts that are cooler than the Obama ones.

Although there is not a lot of traditional political publicity on campus for the election. — groups handing out fliers and get out the vote campaigns — it does not mean that the students are not concerned about the election. In my political science classes this quarter, it seems like every question people ask relates back to the presidential candidates and their policies or world view. Since most people on campus always seem to be concerned with Biological Sciences, I feel it’s appropriate to say that in general, it feels like Irvine has been inflicted with a mild case of Obama-mania, with absolutely no risk of McCain fever.