Black Caucus President Anthony Washington said college students have a "chance to make history this year."
The new faces of Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are exciting young voters because of character, not because of their background, Washington said.
"We are watching history unfold in front of our eyes," he said.
And, he added, people are interested because they want to be a part of the reason for a minority being nominated as a serious contender for the presidency.
Washington said he believes the Democratic primary in South Carolina will be heavily affected by the student and minority vote.
Washington's views are not consistent with results from a study, "Failing our students, Failing America," released in 2006 by Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The study suggests that college students' lack of civic knowledge could hinder their participation in this year's primaries.
Richard Brake, a conductor of the study, said he wants to encourage young Americans to exercise their rights as voters.
"College students are the future leaders of American society," Brake said.
Though Washington did not comment on Brake's study, he said informed students could sway the vote. In particular, he added, he believes black students are more active in civics than ever before.
Dara Alston (freshman-English) said Penn State freshmen, while eager for the upcoming elections, may not yet be ready to vote.
"I know I'm not prepared to vote," Alston said, "and I don't think [college students are] as prepared to vote as we should be."
Jessica Roberson (freshman-economics) said she is registered to vote and has been keeping up with election coverage.
"I wouldn't vote for a black person just because he's a black person," Roberson said, "[But] the thought of having a black president is empowering. I really like Barack Obama. I think he has the potential to win."
Others students, like Michael Hansbury (junior-liberal arts), said diversity has nothing to do with who he would vote for.
"I really don't care about the race and sex," Hansbury said. "I just want who's best for our country to run it."
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE