Politics heat up UA campus

By Joe Fergusen
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 22, 2004

It would be hard for a UA student to be politically ignorant this election year.

Concerted efforts by Associated Students of the University of Arizona, several student political groups and at least one independent non-partisan group gave students ample opportunity to register to vote and to learn about local and national politics this year.

ASUA President Alistair Chapman said he took a different approach from previous years, saying the table on the UA Mall registering students to vote was unnecessary this year. He said efforts by College Republicans and Young Democrats to register students to vote overlapped ASUA efforts to register voters.

Instead, Chapman said he partnered with the Residence Hall Association and the Secretary of State to provide voter registration forms at check-in for 6,000 residence hall dwellers.

Chapman said ASUA was successful in registering students to vote with its partnership with Rock the Vote 2004. He said the partnership offered students a chance to go to a free concert as long as they were registered voters. Almost 2,000 students went to see the hip-hop group Nappy Roots.

ASUA and the Arizona Students Association also sponsored a bus to take students to see the final presidential debate at Arizona State University.

In addition to voter registration, Chapman said ASUA has been focused on voter education. ASUA hosted a political speakers series over the last few months, bringing in several local politicians as well as political maverick Michael Moore.

Chapman said he was hoping to have several more speakers come to the UA before the national elections.

ASUA was not the only one to bring prominent speakers to the UA. The UA College Republicans brought conservative author Ann Coulter to the UA last night in order to counter the Moore appearance.

Pete Seat, state chairman of the Arizona College Republicans, said UACR has registered 500 students to vote since this summer and many members have been working at phone banks on the behalf of Republican candidates. Seat said the membership for UACR has doubled since the beginning of the semester.

Alicia Cybulski, president of the UA Young Democrats, said they have registered 700 voters since this summer.

Both organizations have had a table on the UA Mall every day of the week this semester, distributing campaign literature, buttons and stickers.

The dismal turnout in 2000 was enough for a UA economics senior, Cole Adamson, to found a non-partisan coalition of UA clubs whose sole focus is to increase the student vote.

Adamson said he was dismayed by the low national average of students taking part in the electoral process. Adamson said there are 28 million 18- to 25-year-olds eligible to vote nationally.

Laurel Johnson, an undeclared freshman, said she was excited at her first chance to vote.

The 19-year-old said she registered immediately at the beginning of the school year, eager to join the Young Democrats. She registered as a Democrat because she became sick of hearing about Republicans while in high school.

Vanessa Allen, an undeclared freshman, said she actually registered in high school. Allen said a government class she took her senior year asked students to register to vote.

"I am excited to vote," Allen said.