Students get involved in the political process

Students rally at the Feb. 21 Democratic presidential primary debate at the university. Student groups like the College
Students rally at the Feb. 21 Democratic presidential primary debate at the university. Student groups like the College Republicans of Texas and University Democrats have hosted events to get students involved in 2008 election. Christina Murrey

In the weeks leading up to the March 4 primary, many presidential candidates and their spouses visited the university, getting students excited about the upcoming election and involved in the political process.

So far, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hilary Clinton, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Republican candidate Ron Paul and actress Kerry Washington have made appearances on campus.

Student groups like the College Republicans of Texas, University Democrats, Students for Hilary Clinton, Students for Barack Obama and Students for Ron Paul have hosted rallies and voter registration drives to make sure students understand their choices and are involved in 2008 election.

"I believe that students have decided to become more interested in politics because they are slowly realizing that politics are not far and removed from their everyday lives," said Nikki Lockhart, a member of the University Democrats. "They have started to see that it is important to truly voice your opinion and fight for candidates who represent young people's interests."

Clinton and Obama participated in a Democratic presidential primary debate at the university on Feb. 21. The Senate of College Councils hosted a debate-watching party in the Texas Union Ballroom where students, faculty and staff gathered to watch the candidates discuss their campaigns.

Katy Justice, a student writer at the Daily Texan, said that while many students agree that the debate was important, they said it did not change their minds on which candidate they voted for in the March 4 primary.

"I feel like I got to know the candidates better at the debate," said Lauren Bonds, a finance senior.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul rallied with student supporters Feb. 23 on the Main Mall, an event attended by about 4,000 people.

The numerous political events at the university have caused many students to realize how important the 2008 presidential elections are for the United States.

This semester, the College Republicans have been involved in a number of non-partisan voter registration drives and voter awareness initiatives, such as the Valentine's Day "I Heart Voting" demonstration that the group participated in with the University Democrats.

"Our club offers ways for Republicans on campus to get involved with campaigns on both the state and national levels," said junior Ryan Ellis, public relations director for the College Republicans. "Now that the primaries are behind us we expect to be working hard for our nominees to make a difference in local and statewide elections. I'm excited about the 2008 election. It's refreshing to see so many of my peers excited as well."