2008 Political Issues at UC-Irvine


By Perry Yates, Sandra Lee, and Kareem Barghouti Unigo Campus Reps at UC-Irvine Nov. 4, 2008 As Reported by Perry Yates With so many important issues at stake in this presidential election, it’s interesting to note that UCI has distanced itself from the pack by focusing on all the issues and presenting each side in a harmonious way. On Oct. 30, the University sponsored an event to provide an even-sided look into all the different California propositions for this election cycle. The event’s mission was to present different sides of controversial issues so that passersby could witness different speeches and arguments in favor or opposed and then make up their own minds. I am using this event to gauge my perception of the biggest issues on campus based on what proposition issues garnered the most passion and biggest crowds. The most visible issue on campus by far this season has been Prop 8, a California voter proposition to ban state recognition of gay marriage. Since we live in “material” Orange County, it seems fair to say that people sometimes wear their feelings on their sleeves. Judging by this reasoning, Prop 8 is failing on our campus. The “Get Up & Vote Down Prop 4 and 8” booth has made an appearance on our campus during the past 10 days and the result has been an increase of people sporting favorable buttons. Another issue that brought a heavy crowd of cheerers and jeerers was the Prop 1A initiative, just one of a line of “green” issues that have been embraced by this campus. In recent years, UCI students have become familiar with Greenpeace recruiters and frequent booths on Ring Road touting the pros of a green campus and green life. It feels like UC-Irvine has embraced the green movement — no small task considering the heavy conservative sentiments in Orange County. The diversity of our campus works to provide a unique subtext and perception of these issues. Various groups on campus have campaigned for these issues with a hope for understanding diversity in mind. One of these groups, the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA), has been a strikingly visual part of these campaigns, posting a “write your thoughts” board on campus about why Asian-Americans should vote. I asked a couple of members of this group what this election cycle means to them and they said that their efforts were centered towards promoting Asian American perspectives in voting and to provide an opportunity for others to view this perspective as they pass by their canvas board. Like UCI, the spirit of this unique approach to the election qualifies our campus’ message that it’s important to have opinions and that those opinions should be expressed through your ballot. Like the essence of this campaign season on campus, change, UC-Irvine has undergone a quiet transformation these past few weeks, urging students to vote and to be open minded about the issues. Pretty odd considering how everyone who doesn’t go here labels us as apathetic. As Reported By Sandra Lee I had the opportunity to interview Professor Martin Wattenberg, a professor of political science at UCI. Watternberg is an expert in elections and party policies, and co-author of a popular undergraduate text book on American government called “Government in America: People, Policy, and Politics.” Wattenberg has also authored “Where Have All the Voters Gone: The Decline of American Political Parties, Is Voting for Young People?,” and “The Rise of Candidate-Centered Politics.” I asked Wattenberg what effect the Presidential election has had on the campus, and he responded that this is the most interested he has seen students appear since teaching. He also found that the SNL skits are very popular among his students for election content and conveyed that stores aimed at younger consumers are encouraging young people to vote, such as Victoria’s Secret and The Gap. As a result, many young voters are becoming more enthusiastic. Professor Wattenberg took a survey in his classroom of 100 students with an 85 percent response rate. He found that the students voted for Obama 5 to1, while nationally, young people are voting for Obama 2 to 1. Furthermore, Bush’s approval rating was 10 percent, which he said goes down each year he does the survey. In fact, Professor Wattenberg found that the majority of Republicans in his classroom disapproved of Bush, as well as all Democrats and most Independents. In addition, Professor Wattenberg expressed that the same major issues that older voters are concerned with, such as the economy, are also a concern for the students at UCI. Wattenberg emphasized that the mood at UCI is overwhelmingly for change. This change also pertains to America’s image to the rest of the world. Many students expressed to him that the image of the United States needs to improve internationally with the next president. Professor Wattenberg believes that UCI students are more involved in the election than ever before due to an overwhelming want for change in the White House. Young voters have the power to determine who the next President of the United States will be and many are exercising this right. There are high hopes on UCI campus that Obama will win and that change will follow. As Reported by Kareem Barghouti Lila Kooklan is a 4th year political science major at UC-Irvine. Over the summer Lila was offered a volunteer position to help out the Democratic Party campaign in Calabassas, Calif. Kooklan, a huge advocate on youth voting and youth involvement in their communities, felt this was a great opportunity to gain new insight on all that Obama stands for but also to get a real feel of the potentially soon to be first lady. She drove Michelle Obama around while she would do her press circuits, including the Ellen DeGeneres show and fundraisers held at Samuel L. Jackson’s home. While driving, Kooklan would overhear Obama and her staff advisors. She felt that Michelle Obama is a very real and strong woman who has good intentions to support America’s needs. She was uncensored, genuine and deeply passionate. After an experience like this, Kooklan has never been more certain that Obama is the right choice for America’s next president.

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