5,000 Student Voters Wanted For Rock The Caucus In Iowa

This story was written by James Heggen, Iowa State Daily
In order to give young people a voice in the 2008 presidential campaign, one group has launched a campaign to get them involved in the upcoming caucus.

Kathleen Cogan, campus organizer for Iowa Public Interest Research Group, said Rock the Caucus is a statewide campaign with a goal of getting 5,000 to pledge to caucus on Jan. 3.

"It's just a big get-out-the-vote campaign," she said.

Cogan said the goal is to get students to caucus in large numbers so candidates will pay attention to issues young people care about.

"We want students to caucus so our voice will be heard," she said.

Cogan said this is the first year they have done this campaign.

"I think a lot's at stake in the upcoming election," she said.

Cogan identified global warming, the war in Iraq and college affordability as three key issues in this election.

Alyson Peeler, junior in history, said she volunteered all three days.

"It's an opportunity to take a stance," she said.

Mario Winburn, freshman in meteorology, said Thursday was his first day and he was out in order to help young people's voice be heard.

"If we get enough people, we can show the country that we do care," he said.

Iowa PIRG is a nonpartisan group and Peeler emphasized she didn't care what party pledges belonged to.

"I'm very liberal, but we're still trying to get Republicans to caucus," she said.

The pledge drive, which wrapped up on Thursday, lasted three days and included volunteers getting students to pledge to caucus. Cogan said the three day total was 715 pledges, bringing the overall total to approximately 900.

Cogan said Iowa PIRG, which is spearheading the program, got about 20 to 25 volunteers to collect pledges. Cogan said students can also pledge online and join the group on Facebook.

Although the group is done with its pledge drive, volunteers will be independently recruiting pledges until the day of the caucus, she said.

Overall, Cogan said the response has been good, although there have been some challenges. She said this year's early caucus date, which falls during break, was a challenge the group has been dealing with.

"I think we knew early on that that was going to be an obstacle," she said.

Cogan said many students did not know the university was opening dorms for those wanting to caucus.

Peeler said she encountered some students who didn't know about the caucus.

"I've tried to take the time to explain it," she said.

Peeler said it was important for students to caucus, especially with Iowa having the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

"There's such a power in our hands," she said. "That's something that we should appreciate and not take for granted."

Peeler also talked about the Jan. 3 caucus date.

"I think it helps the dorms are going to be open," she said. "It's a challenge we're trying to overcome."

Winburn agreed that the caucus is poorly timed but still encouraged young people to get out and caucus.

"This is our chance to prove the country wrong," she said.

© 2007 Iowa State Daily via U-WIRE