The Pre-Election Political Climate at URI

University of Rhode Island Students

By Katie Hansen

By Katie Hansen
Unigo Campus Rep at URI

Students at the University of Rhode Island are gearing up to vote in the 2008 Presidential Election, at least that’s what the  heads of the College Republicans and College Democrats seem are hoping for. With this election being the first in which most college students are interested to participate in, both organizations are putting forth their best efforts to voice their opinions and encourage the student body to show up on Election Day.

Time and time again, we hear that the 18-24 year-old population is producing the lowest voter turnout and young people are not being represented at the polls. Many seem to think the deciding factor may be the historically lacking youth vote. So are college students going to break this streak and actually go to the polls this year? If you look around at college campuses right now, that seems to be an accurate assumption.

Most of the political action taking place on the URI campus stems from the College Republicans and College Democrats. While the campus is predominantly left-leaning, both groups are busy encouraging students to register and vote. “On campus we have already co sponsored a voting drive and also we have had numerous local candidates come to speak at our meetings,” said College Republican President Jonathan Hansen, who is a junior at URI. “We have also pledged to help local candidates by going door to door and putting up yard signs.” Hansen continued, “Recently we have also held phone banks for the McCain campaign and will also be sending 5 members to New Hampshire for a week before the election.”

The College Republicans aren’t the only group taking political action on campus, however. Ryan Drugan, College Democrats President and a senior, discussed how his group has been making an impact on campus. “As of right now the URI College Democrats have organized various Voter Registration Drives to get students registered to vote,” said Drugan. Besides encouraging voter registration, Drugan is also taking steps that go outside the campus. “Currently I am writing a letter to Senator Jack Reed and Representative James Langavin on the importance to bring about a policy that will help our economy and the immediate actions that need to be taken,” said Drugan.

Though they may not agree on who should be the next Presidential, Drugan and Hansen do agree on what this election means to the students of URI. They each know that this is an extremely important election not only for the country but for the youths of the country. “I do indeed believe that the upcoming elections have had an enormous impact on all of us here as students,” Hansen said. “Our generation, I believe, has the most at stake and it really is energizing the youth around the country,” added Hansen.

Having a similar mindset, Drugan also discussed the importance of this election on students. “Students want to be a part of that the process in shaping the country we will have to run,” said Drugan.

The upcoming election is not only on the minds of these two presidents, but of URI students as well. Jessica Guidoboni, a senior at URI, and President of the Public Relations Society said, “I’m definitely going to vote this November. I think it’s an important election especially for people our age and if we want to be heard then we need to get to the polls and vote.” This idea seemed to be popular among the students of URI. Others also felt that it’s finally time our age group is represented at the polls. “It is definitely important that we students vote this time around,” said Kalee Garvey, another senior at URI. Garvey continued, “from the beginning, with a black man and a woman competing for the democratic seat, this has been an important election and I think it’s important that we are apart of it.”

No matter which candidate they may be voting for, the students of the University of Rhode Island are getting ready for Election Day. For the first time, in a very long time, the youth vote has a chance of making a strong impact on the next President of the United States. It may have taken a significant election like this one, but students around the country are ready for it. As Ryan Drugan, the President of the College Democrats said, “Everyone always says young people should get involved. Well now we are.”