With the Pennsylvania primary getting closer by the day, and the general election merely months away, many students are getting ready to vote for the first time.
Maritza Lawson, an undeclared freshman, registered to vote on Temple’s campus this year. She said that it was easy because there are always canvassers around helping people to sign up.
Temple’s political culture might not be as organized as other area schools, but Curtis Blessing, the campus coordinator for Students for Barack Obama, said student involvement is improving.
“It’s better than it has been in the past, but not that good when compared to other schools like Penn,” said Blessing, a sophomore political science major. “They are much more involved, organized and unbelievably active.”
With many students sporting apparel endorsing their favorite candidates, Lawson said she thinks the majority of young people care about the election.
“I would hope that students care more this year because there are so many things going on, the first female candidate and the first African-American candidate,” she said.
Political science professor Michael Hagen said that young people are an important group for the upcoming election.
“Even though the whole group of people under 21 or 29 isn’t very involved, those who do get involved are very in to it,” Hagen said. “Young people interested in politics start out knocking on doors for campaigns or handing out flyers.”
Politically active students are getting their friends involved in campaigns, and by now, some can be considered professionals – freshman political science major Mark Fabbi has campaigned for politicians since the eighth grade.
“I think now that we’re getting older, this election is bringing in a lot of people who’ve never been involved,” Fabbi said. “My roommate is getting involved, I don’t think he would have if this election wasn’t so important.”
Student excitement over the primary could carry on to a more involved general election, Hagen said.
“Young people will be an important question mark in the general election, especially if they can unite the Democratic Party, whoever the candidate may be,” Hagen said.
For those who aren’t as politically savvy as they’d like to be, this election cycle can be mind-boggling. Freshman biology major Liz Gordon said she is interested in politics, but doesn’t know enough.
“I read up on all of the candidates,” Gordon said. “I want to know more about them, but it’s really hard to find an unbiased view of the candidates and I think that’s essential.”
While young people may be showing interest, Gordon said they aren’t motivated to learn more.
“They only worry about whom their friends are voting for and that’s how they make their decisions,” she said. “They say, ‘I’m going to vote for this person because all of my friends are voting for them.’”
Freshman biology major Nick Nowotarski said that young people aren’t concerned enough with politics, and politics is what runs our country.
“I think that most people have a general idea and are only looking at the big picture and not the important details,” he said. “They are too busy with other stuff.”
For some students, politics is the key to the future.
“I think the world we live in is not the way I’d want it to be, and politics is the way to change it,” Blessing said. “I’ve been waiting for this election.”
LeAnne Matlach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.