Young Dems peacefully protest Coulter speech

By Jesse Lewis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 22, 2004

A handful of UA Young Democrats met at Old Main last night to peacefully protest Ann Coulter's speech by canvassing campus residence halls to get students to vote in early polling next week.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva, and District 8 Democratic Rep. candidate Eva Bacal, spoke last night about the work the UAYD have been doing for the election.

The group was protesting peacefully as a response to the UA College Republicans' rude and interruptive protests at the Michael Moore, Theresa Heinz-Kerry, and John Edwards's speeches, said Alicia Cybulski, UAYD president.

The UAYDs went door-to-door in campus residence halls to talk to students about voting for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., but mostly to make everyone aware of the early voting site on campus and the importance of the election. They distributed a brochure with reasons to vote for Kerry, which they have already mailed to 17,000 registered Democrats.

Grijalva said he was proud of the work the UAYD have been doing for the election on campus and in all of Southern Arizona.

"(The UAYD) show that young people are able to spread the vote," Grijalva said.

"Young people are sometimes forgotten," Grijalva said. "This is a critical and pivotal election for young people in this country."

Paul L. Eckerstrom, Pima County Democratic Party chairman, said he is very impressed with the maturity of the UAYD and is proud of the way they protested Coulter's appearance.

"We're not going to go in there and interrupt her speech, but do something positive for the first time in this election," Eckerstrom said.

Eckerstrom said the positive actions of the UAYD will turn Arizona blue.

"Everyone understands how negative and nasty this thing has become, we respect our democracy, free speech and our Constitution," Eckerstrom said.

He said that instead of yelling and screaming at events because the speaker does not agree with your views is destructive rather than productive.

"We're going to make a statement, we don't like (Coulter), so we're going to knock on doors," Eckerstrom said. "It moves us farther in democracy."

Rep. Tom Prezelski, D-Ariz., said he thinks the way Republicans on campus are acting is a sign of their inability to accept defeat.

"I think you can tell by how rude and snippety the Republicans are being. They know their cause is lost," Prezelski said.

Samantha Kerr, an undecided freshman member of UAYD said she knows her group is trying to be respectful of both sides.

"I think it shows our level of maturity, we aren't here because we hate Bush, we just think Kerry is the best candidate and we try to use a positive approach to convey this," Kerr said.

UAYD members said they appreciated hearing Grijalva and other politicians speak, and think it shows the respect they have for students and their impact on this nation and this election, said Silke Anderson, a political science and journalism freshman.

"It's great these officials came out to look at the young voters and the impact they will have on this election," Anderson said.

Michael Slugocki, an undecided freshman member of UAYD, said he thinks what his group is doing is better planned and mature than the actions of the College Republicans.

"I'm here to show support for Kerry and do something positive rather than being immature like the young Republicans were at the Michael Moore event," Slugocki said.