Northwestern U. Political Groups Ready For Election

This story was written by Libby Clark, Daily Northwestern

Student groups may be on a sunny hiatus, but campus political organizations have been gearing up this summer so that they can hit the ground running this election season.

Their political scheming has been aided by a recent victory within the Associated Student Government which now allows for student groups supporting a particular candidate to receive ASG recognition. Although they will not be eligible for funding, the recent decision is a major victory for groups supporting Barack Obama and John McCain, because they will be able to have representatives at the activities fair and reserve meeting space on campus in the months approaching the November 4 election.

College Democrats will bring a high profile speaker to campus in the first week of October, according to junior Jeff Cao, ASG senator for the College Democrats.

"The large speaking event is a typical fall program of the Democrats, whereas in the winter and spring we typically host something a little less traditional," said Cao. "Last May, we helped bring Ted Leo for Dillo Day."

College Democrats will also encourage students to get involved in campaigning, but there are limits on what they can do as an ASG-funded group. Technically, groups such as the College Democrats and College Republicans can receive funding because they do not support one specific candidate or party (the group titles are deceiving).

"Really, we will mostly be trying to encourage students to get involved with Northwestern Students for Barack Obama," said Cao.

A new student group, NSFBO leadership has recently been in flux because executive members have been hired to work full-time for the Obama campaign in the Fall.

Active member and SESP senior Sam Schiller, however, has high expectations for NFSBO. "The great thing about being in Chicago is that we're bordered on each side by two real swing states, Indiana and Wisconsin, which have the potential to influence the election."

Schiller said there are plans to get involved with the Obama headquarters in Chicago, possibly by helping with campaign phone calls.

On the other side of the political ticket are the College Republicans, who received about a quarter of the amount of funding ($11,622) that the College Democrats received in the last ASG cycle.

The group will try to host voter registration drives on campus and would like to arrange some sort of debate with the Democrats, according to College Republicans president James D'Angelo. They also plan to send members to volunteer in smaller campaigns.

"We will not be focusing on McCain so much because he really is not going to have much influence in Illinois," said D'Angelo. "The only reason he would really come to campus would be to fundraise, and that's not allowed."

"Campaigning is a great process; to be in either with the Democrats or the Republicans you can get a lot of insight into what's going on at a national level," said D'Angelo. "I don't think we're going to be changing the campus tide toward McCain, but hopefully we can get people to realize that McCain isn't a bad person, he's pretty reasonable, so they could support him in the event that he's elected president."