Obama Group At NYU: Small But Big Mission

This story was written by Hilary Tuttle, Washington Square News
"We've got about 150 to 200 members on our listserve, and I would say that 20 or so of them are part of our core membership," said Jordan Budd, media coordinator of NYU Students for Obama.

At a school of tens of thousands, 163 members of a Facebook group does not inherently seem impressive. Nor, for that matter, does about 20 people. And yet, NYU Students for Obama has garnered substantial public attention for the influence and vigor the club has brought to this year's national presidential election, including a commendation from the Obama campaign in a profile in The New York Times.

The group, created about a week before Obama's September speech in Washington Square Park, played a major role in organizing and promoting the 24,000-person event on campus. For its efforts with the rally and considerable time campaigning, calling and petitioning with the official campaign, the Obama camp named NYU Students for Obama "one of the most active student groups across the nation because of their extraordinary effort and energy," said Rudi Shenk, the campaign's national outreach director in New York.

In the wake of Super Tuesday, the group's officials said that activities have calmed down considerably, but they stress that their efforts for the Illinois senator haven't ceased.

"Basically all that we're doing, which is still a lot, is traveling to nearby states that have not yet voted, such as Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, and helping them get out the vote. We do phone-banking a few times a week, and we also have debate/results watching parties," Budd said in an e-mail.

Mika Rothman, the group's president, detailed some of the students' upcoming plans to aid the campaign.

"We'll be calling voters in Ohio and Texas this week and then going up to Rhode Island to volunteer for the weekend," he said. "We're also hoping to make a video that responds to some of the criticisms that Sen. Obama has received, in terms of being 'all talk and no substance' and that his supporters don't really know why they support him beyond hope and change - so basically explicitly talking about policy and his legislative accomplishments. And we want to get T-shirts."

As the election approaches, Students for Obama hopes to mobilize more of the senator's base on campus and to engage more students in the campaign.

"I think it's really great that there are so many students here who support Sen. Obama," Rothman said. "We have about 250 on our e-mail list and 160 Facebook group members, so we're not huge, considering the size of NYU's student body, but I know there are a lot of students who support him but don't really get involved or just haven't heard about us. Hopefully the T-shirts will help with that."
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