Student organizations gathered in the Shepardson Building under guidance of a national organization this weekend to form a coalition to mobilize student voters //– who student leaders say are largely apathetic — for the 20008 presidential election.
The goal of the project, which student leaders say will utilize thousands of volunteers next fall, is to increase the number of student voters by five percent by November, making the student demographic more visible to elected officials.
Scott Lu, who led workshops with student government and several other organizations spearheading the effort, said that if students don’t vote, lawmakers don’t acknowledge the issues that affect the youth because they have to pander to their biggest constituencies — which, until recently, didn’t include a large number of students.
“As a collective, there’s more power when it comes to getting politicians to pay attention to student interests,” Lu said.
Lu, director of the Students of Color Campus Diversity Project, worked to mobilize student voters in the 2004 election at the University of Oregon. The 2004 effort yielded 60,000 new voters at 20 universities across the country — a 10 percent increase from the 2002 election.
In 2006, the effort registered 44,000 students at 29 universities in five states.
CSU has never been involved in the effort before.
But next semester, thousands of volunteers with student organizations will be making phone calls and knocking on doors of CSU students on campus and around Fort Collins, reminding students to vote.
Trevor Trout, vice president of the Associated Student of CSU, said ASCSU is hoping to get most of the major student organizations on campus to get involved in the coalition.
Katie Freudenthal, director of Community Affairs for ASCSU, said the program is focused on ensuring that students have a voice that candidates for public office will listen to.
“We have to get students out to vote, so we have more student power,” she said.
Several student organizations attended the training session, Freudenthal said, and ASCSU expects to recruit 25 to help with the effort by next semester.
“I hope it comes to fruition,” Freudenthal said. “It’s gonna take some work, but we’ve got to start somewhere for the 2008 election.”
News Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org