Politically affiliated and non-partisan student organizations on Main Campus are preparing for the upcoming election on Nov. 6, by boosting interest among students and community members.
Now that the voter registration deadline has passed, activities throughout the rest of this month aim to increase voter turnout and to explore in-depth issues voiced by political campaigns.
“Between all of the organizations on campus registering people to vote, I think over 5,000 people have been registered,” Dylan Morpurgo, a junior political science major and president of Temple College Democrats, said. “We will be now moving into informing students where to vote and how to vote.”
TCD will ultimately provide information in the hope that students will support the president and the Democratic Party, Morpurgo said.
Similarly, Temple University College Republicans is taking part in get-out-the-vote efforts with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign.
“Our No. 1 goal is winning and making sure Barack Obama is a one-term president,” Erik Jacobs, a senior political science major and TUCR chairman, said. “We want to make sure all of our members vote, and hope to foster as many votes for Romney and Ryan and other down ticket races in the Philadelphia region.”
After several debate viewing parties, both organizations will have their own debate on five topics concerning both parties’ platforms. The location, time and the topics are yet to be determined.
“Our debate last semester had good attendance, was good-spirited and a little bit contentious,” Morpurgo said. “We heard from audience members that it was great.”
Unlike the presidential debate, this discussion won’t produce winners or losers, Morpurgo said.
Despite the marked differences between both organizations, Morpurgo and Jacobs said that TCD and TUCR have a good working relationship. Early in the semester they co-sponsored several events and press conferences, Morpurgo said.
Kevin Arceneaux, associate professor of political science, said that both groups play an important role in the election by engaging young voters who often are overlooked by national campaigns.
“Based on the way campaign strategies are unfolding, [candidates] seem to think that the bulk of undecided voters comes from middle-aged people,” Arceneaux said. “Presidential candidates don’t seem to visit college campuses that much.”
While the Queer Student Union and Occupy Temple identify as non-partisan organizations, the groups use the election as a platform to draw attention to the relationship between elected officials and the organizations’ goals.
“We generally don’t support Democrats or Republicans,” Walter Smolarek, a senior secondary education major of Occupy Temple, said. “Both maintain the same system of exploitation, oppression, et cetera.”
Smolarek said that he and other members have been working on the Peta Lindsay campaign, a socialist presidential candidate who visited Temple earlier this month. Smolarek said Lindsay represents the need for mass movements and struggle to bring about change.
“Our orientation is that we can’t wait for politicians and elected officials to benevolently give us all the things we need,” Smolarek said. “We have to organize and fight to have them.”
Morpurgo, who is also the financial director of QSU, said that the LGBT advocacy group decided to endorse President Obama given that his party is the only one that advocates issues that are important to LGBT citizens.
“Romney has pledged that he would be opposed not only to marriage equality but also to civil unions,” Morpurgo said. “Before the election we will be informing our members why they should be voting for the president based off [LGBT] issues, we don’t get involved in anything else.”
Arceneaux recommended all these organizations to persist on “shoe leather” politics — to knock on doors, make phone calls and volunteer for the campaigns.
A special challenge is posed by people who are not interested in politics or turned off by the bipartisan nature of politics, he said.
“If they want to reach out to these kind[s] of people, it would be in their best interest to discuss political issues in a way that seems relevant to these people’s lives,” Arceneaux said.
Laura Ordonez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.