Raise Your Voice gets CSULB students voting

By Sandra Siagian

Published: Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Updated: Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sen. John McCain and Barack Obama faced off in the second presidential debate Tuesday night tackling domestic policy, foreign affairs and the economy.

Cal State Long Beach students filled up the University Student Union for the debate party organized by the Associated Students Inc. as part of ASI’s Raise Your Voice campaign.

Since ASI launched campaign on Sept. 27, more than 500 CSULB students have registered to vote with a number of students registering at the debate party.

The debate, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, set up like a town hall meeting with questions from the audience and internet was moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw. As the first questions rolled out, McCain and Obama were quick to point the finger.

The economy was the first and major issue discussed in the debate. A tricky question from the audience asked how voters could trust either one of them to fix the economy when both parties contributed to the financial crisis. Obama pointed to President Bush and McCain for the crisis blaming them for the increased deficit and failed economic policies from the last 8 years in the United States. McCain, on the other hand, proposed the government buy up and renegotiate bad home loans to stabilize the property market.

In other issues, McCain said health care was a responsibility while Obama said it was a right. Both candidates also said they would pursue Osama Bin Laden. Their snide remarks towards each other and their ability to not follow the rules with time amused the students watching at the USU who were not afraid to laugh along with them.

Tylor Mondloch, junior biology student and McCain supporter watched the debate at the USU and said at times he was distracted with the candidates taking every opportunity to jab at each other.

“For the most part they focused on the issues and they covered it well,” Mondloch said. “In the past he (McCain) has taken every opportunity to talk about how he is more experienced than Obama and I think he has toned that down significantly in this debate which is good.”

One thing that Mondloch disagreed with was the candidates focus more on elderly issues rather than the young.

“Both of them are middle age and above and they did not talk a lot about education in this debate,” he said. “The elderly vote so much more than we do, so that was smart for them to talk more about them, but I would love for them to talk more about education and more feature issues rather than current issues.”

Jessica Martinez, senior political science major and Obama supporter was also watching at the USU and was happy with the range of issues discussed.

“I thought it was good that issues were covered from energy to Pakistan to Afghanistan and the financial crisis,” she said. “I feel that Obama has a much better stance when it comes to supporting the people and I feel that McCain’s experience is good when it comes to foreign policy.”

Although education was not discussed in great depth during the debate, Martinez thinks Obama has a greater emphasis on education and health care, always insisting that we fund education while McCain’s camp rarely mentions this issue.

“I think this is a fundamental issue as the next generation needs to be educated as they will one day take over the government,” Martinez said.

Andrew Kress, a junior political science major and ASI secretary for system-wide affairs said the idea started over an ASI retreat for a way to get more students involved in the political process.

“Students tend to be one of the most underrepresented and overall apathetic demographic and I want to do my part to help change that,” he said. “We were helped by the fact that this is a year where college students are naturally more interested in politics and elections.”

Kress saw this campaign as a good opportunity to increase student voter registration. ASI members put out voter registration tables twice a day around campus and throw debate parties to attract students. Jeannine Pearce, senior sociology major and Obama campaign coordinator for CSULB, is also working towards increasing student voting registrations with regular store front events, debate watching parties and tabling around campus.

“I think it is important for students to vote because it’s the first time that a candidate has appealed to the younger people,” Pearce said of Obama. “This election has given students a reason to get active as it affects our college and healthcare especially with our economy.”

Pearce and Kress have made it clear that their main goal is to push students to become more active in the political community rather than rally for one party.

“Whether they are for Obama or McCain, we want to make sure they can talk about issues they believe in,” Pearce said. “If students can understand these issues and feel comfortable talking about them, then they can make it to the polls and that’s our main goal.”

The California Faculty Association also launched a campaign to encourage California students to vote through social networks and websites.

“There is nothing more American than exercising one’s right to vote and many Americans cast their first vote as college students,” said CFA Vice President Kim Geron, a professor of political science at CSU East Bay and chair of CFA’s Tim Sampson Memorial Student Internship Program.

“In today’s digital era of MySpace, Facebook, and the many other social networks and websites, there is tremendous opportunity to register millions of new voters,” Geron said. “ College students represent a growing portion of the electorate and have the potential to make a big impact and this is simply an effort to jump-start the registration process.”

ASI will be holding another event on Oct. 15, to mark the third debate between McCain and Obama. The event will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the USU Southwest Terrace. There will be a DJ, dance groups, food and speakers from the Obama and McCain camps.