OSU Students Pushed to Vote

October 29, 2012

Despite a multitude of political commercials, some college students lack interest in the outcome of the coming elections.

Getting students excited about the election is one part of Kassey Steele’s job is. Steele is the Graduate Assistant of Campus Life at Oklahoma State University and launched media to push student voting.

“We did lots of marketing, through social media such as Facebook and Twitter,” Steele said. “We also had tables set up with actual, physical voter registration cards for students in Oklahoma. For students out of state we had information for them.”

This was all part of campus life’s “Pistol Pete Wants You to Vote” campaign. In an effort to get more students registered to vote, universities compete to see which can get the most students registered.

“The University of Texas gets over 1,000 students,” Steele said. “We had right at about 500 students registered, which is not as many as we would have liked.”

Steele said despite smaller numbers than they had hoped, the campaign is a success

“That is 500 more people that are registered than were before,” she said.

Although voter registration has ended for students from Oklahoma and Texas, Steele said the voting campaign would continue to have a presence on campus, passing out informational fliers every Monday.

“We also still urge students to get familiar with rockthevote.org,” Steele said. “It is a great resource for students”

Rockthevote.org ’s mission is to “to engage and build political power for young people in our country.” Its content is designed to inform students of issues and the importance of voting by using popular icons and music.

Steele said getting students interested and educated is a challenge.

“I don’t know that voting is a high priority to them,” Steele said. “I don’t think they see the ramifications in higher education and in their life at such a young age.”

Steele said voting is the only way students can have a voice in the world.

“This is your way to state your opinion and to get your voice out there,” Steele said. “You don’t really have a voice unless you vote.”

Steele said there are many reasons students don’t vote; some don’t care, some don’t think it is important and some like Blaine Tarter, an accounting sophomore, said they feel like they don’t have time.

“The biggest reason I’m not registered is laziness,” Tarter said. “I’m not even sure if it’s too late or not.”

For Tater, a Texas resident, it is too late. He said he doesn’t pay much attention to what’s going on, but he somewhat cares.

“I guess I don’t know enough to really vote on the issues,” he said. “I know it all matters, but I’m just not up to date or anything.”

There are ways for students to get informed without leaving campus. There are organizations that specialize in informing their members, including Young Republicans and Young Democrats.

Forrest Rogers, a physiology and French double major sophomore, is the president of Young Democrats and said being a student organization makes it easier to help students.

“We specialize in how the party operates with students and so it is a student- run organization that better operates with students,” Rogers said. “We understand the needs of students and we know what students are interested in.”

He said Young Democrats work to educate students by having guest speakers from different parties and views. Rogers said education might be one of the biggest reasons students don’t vote.

“We are kind of in this bubble on campus,” he said. “You can go without much effort without understanding what is going on in the world. We understand what is going on in campus, but you wouldn’t know that we are potentially on the verge of having a war with Syria”

Rogers said students don’t vote because they are unsure of what is going on, so it doesn’t matter to many of them.

“It is ignorance in the purist definition,” he said.

Steele and Rogers said students don’t understand the importance of their votes. Rodgers said Hillary Clinton would have been the forefront, but Barak Obama put up a good fight and won. A big part was at the beginning students were involved.

He said everyone that can vote should vote.

“It is their responsibility and our number-one weapon against the fall of democracy,” Rogers said. “If we want to preserve our rights and our freedoms and

our establishment that we’d like to call a democracy, then the biggest thing we have to do is vote.”

The presidential election will take place Nov. 6 and Rogers said it’s time students make educated decisions on who is elected to serve them and their beliefs.

“We elect our leaders to make decisions for us, though it is very rare that we get an occasion to make decisions directly,” he said. “So when that time comes we have to be prepared, but we are not which is why it is sad.”

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