While only a small minority of Princeton students usually take advantage of Fall Break for its original political purpose, this year will see more than the typical number of students on the campaign trail.
Fall Break is especially important to student political involvement, as getting involved in a campaign may be difficult at other times of the year, College Democrats president Rob Weiss said. There are far too few ways to participate in political engagement, and people can feel politically isolated at our school.
Weiss will be campaigning for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in Virginia with a group of other College Democrats. They will depart campus this afternoon and canvass until Monday. A second group will spend Wednesday through Sunday campaigning on the border of Western Pennsylvania and in Ohio.
Weiss said he is looking forward to the trip. This is one of the most exciting times to be on the front line, he said. It is easier to round up people when campaigning for Obama, as he is such a transformational candidate.
I think its great that we have this institutional mechanism to get people involved, he added.
College Republicans president Andrew Malcolm also said that Fall Break is a great opportunity for students but suggested that it be shifted so that students can be on the campaign trail on Election Day.
Fall Break ends before the actual election, he said, and the 72 hours leading up to an election is the most exciting time. I think more students would campaign and would find it more rewarding if Fall Break were from Wednesday to Wednesday.
Malcolm will be in Virginia with other College Republicans campaigning for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Both Weiss and Malcolm noted that the other activities students pursue over Fall Break are also worthwhile, including service trips, traveling or just relaxing.
College Republicans vice president Andrew Kilberg said that students should take advantage of this year as a critical moment in our nations history.
This is the most important thing we can be doing right now, he said. We should be out there making our opinions heard for the candidates of our choice, he added. Those on the trail are helping to elect the next leader of the free world.
For senior Maria Salciccioli, Fall Break will be her first time on the trail. She will be campaigning for Obama in Virginia in what she said is a landmark election.
I just want to make sure that, just because Im on a college campus I dont become apathetic and let the opportunity to effect change [pass by], said Salciccioli, who is also a blogger for The Daily Princetonian.
Senior Ashley Alexander, who worked for McCains campaign over the summer, said that jumping on the campaign trail is one of the few meaningful ways to make an impact this late in the election season.
For those who hope to work at a campaign office doing analysis instead of reaching out to voters, she said, it is difficult to make a big contribution in the high-stress weeks before Election Day.
If youre not canvassing, it is a difficult time to come on to [a] campaign, she explained.