With presidential elections a year away, UNLV students have the opportunity to take their enthusiasm for politics and join campaigns. Students have had more than their share of opportunities to help in political campaigns because of the November 2008 campaign.
These students feel it is their duty to do whatever they can to promote awareness or spread their knowledge about particular causes. Many have already volunteered for political campaigns as well as have been proactive in their community through school organizations such as the UNLV Young Democrats.
Owen Sherwood, a third-year student and member of the Young Democrats, has been very involved since he was a freshman.
He volunteered for the Bill Richardson campaign, working as Nevada's state volunteer coordinator. Sherwood's experiences have enabled him to grow and become more informed. He is confident and sure of his motivations for doing what he does but without being overzealous.
"Our generation has a lot of say in the way this country is run so we mustn't let the government take advantage of us," Sherwood said.
Sherwood has also set many goals, which he hopes to accomplish this year alongside the Young Democrats, including raising awareness among the student body about prevalent issues affecting the country.
He encourages UNLV students to get involved with political happenings that go beyond just knowing the names of presidential candidates.
Armed with years of real-world experience along with numerous resources at his disposal, Sherwood is ready to take action.
But when it comes to the future, Sherwood is very optimistic. However, he knows it would be impossible to try and achieve all of his goals for several reasons.
This was a sentiment shared by Jerry Simich, professor in the political science department.
"It would be expecting too much of students to make that great of a change," Simich said. "After all, there are many other things college students have on their minds.
"With that said, those who are involved despite everything else they may have going on is a tribute to their devotion."
Simich finds it inspirational to see his students active in numerous political campaigns.
"It's great to see students getting involved at such a young age since studies have shown that most people don't really start paying attention to these sorts of issues until they're at least 30 years old."
This brought up the question of how to get more students involved in government and more aware of prevalent issues affecting the world.
"If I knew how, I sure would," Simich said with a chuckle.
However, there was one bit of advice Simich stressed to any students interested in getting involved with politics. "Read. Read even what you don't like because this will give you a more fixed position. Also, even if you're not interested in politics, joining a political campaign could awaken the possibilities of something else."
Mike Naft, also a third-year political science major, agreed with Simich's statement.
Naft's reason for getting involved in political campaigns is similar to Sherwood's. Naft said he wants to "inspire change." He compares politics to football, but never being much of a sports fan, admits to preferring the strategy behind politics.
Naft worked for Dina Titus's political campaign where he was the deputy finance director. He was also a phone banking volunteer for the John Kerry campaign. Through these campaign jobs he has obtained invaluable knowledge.
The current state of the country has definitely been upsetting to Naft. However, Naft said the thing even more upsetting to him was how misinformed and ignorant the population has become.
"The sensationalism, which as been provided by the media plays a big role," Naft said. "The lack of information has definitely contributed to this as well."
Naft also feels that most people today are depressed but at the same time hopeful about the state of the country.
"The number of people attending political rallies and wanting their voices heard is growing," he said.
Naft is going to be very busy this upcoming year with elections next fall, and he is interested in seeing the way it pans out. He talks about how the candidates with the most financial pull tend to win the election and that this year's presidential candidates are spending a total of $1 billion.
"It's a shame that this is what it takes nowadays in order to run," Naft said. "It also prevents some candidates who may have really great policies and ideas but simply don't have the financial resources to compete."
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© 2007 The Rebel Yell via U-WIRE