Nathanial Eli Coats Styer, president of the University of Michigans chapter of College Democrats, has never had to turn people away from a meeting.
ButSunday night, more than 100 people couldnt squeeze into the Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union for the groups first mass meeting of the year.
The room filled to capacity several minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin, and though current members were urged to make room for newcomers, students had to wait outside, lining the stairs and blocking the hallway.
College Democrats members tried to speak to each person waiting outside one on one, giving them rushed introductions and encouraging them to return.
More than 200 people remained inside still more than capacity for a meeting that drew speakers including State Sen. Gary Peters (DBloomfield Twp.), Rep. John Dingell (DDearborn), his wife and Democratic National Committee member Debbie Dingell, State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (DBattle Creek) and former Michigan basketball player and Barack Obama supporter Jimmy King.
Since last Tuesday, the College Democrats have registered 1,741 new voters, more than half the total number of voters the group registered in 2006. Three hundred twenty-eight registered during Festifall alone.
The excitement on campus is amazing, Styer said. I dont think that weve ever matched this kind of excitement.
Styer said more than 300 students signed up for e-mail lists during last nights meeting, in addition to 900 who signed up over the past week the most interest hes ever seen during his time at the University.
During the meeting, speakers emphasized the importance of the student vote, the urgency of the Presidential election and Michigans role in the final decision.
Its up to you, said Schauer. We can change the math in this election.
During his speech, Dingell presented Styer with a check for $500 to be used to elect the next president. Dingell gave the College Democrats a check of the same value at their annual pancake breakfast fundraiser last March for the same purpose.
Dingell lambasted the current Bush administration, calling it the worst administration since Caligula, and encouraged students to vote.
LSA freshman Jacob Taylor said he chose to come to the University in part because of campuss liberal reputation.
Taylor said he thought this election would have a higher voter turnout because the last election was so close.
Maybe now people feel like they can make a difference, no matter who they are, he said. People want change.
King compared the role of students in the election to a basketball game.
We knew that we could change the environment of basketball from our style of play, he said of the Fab Fives legacy. Thats what you guys can do right now, you guys can change the game right now.