The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

SJU rallies youth to participate

This year’s presidential race is predicted to be a close one. Both Senators John McCain and Barack Obama’s campaigns have spent time, money, and a big effort to capture the hearts and minds of the America’s youth, because 29 million people between the ages of 18 and 24 are eligible to vote.

A new program at St. John’s University aims to get those eligible voters on our campus registered and engaged for Election Day in November.

Participate in ’08 is an initiative that was created after discussions last semester between the Government Relations department, Student Government, the college’s political organizations, and other student and administration leaders about how St. John’s could get involved, promote, and support engagement for this political season.

Officially it is a non-partisan, collaborative effort between the College Democrats, College Republicans, Student Government, faculty, staff, and University administrators at St. John’s designed to promote and provide information about voter registration on all of St. John’s campuses.

They also aim to educate and encourage civic engagement on both the local and national levels of governmental politics.
Students may have found red, white, and blue flyers posted everywhere on campus reminding them of registration deadlines and encouraging students to visit the Participate in ’08 Web site where they can find more information about the program and a listing of events.

On St. John’s Central there is a link that includes literature on voter registration deadlines for New York state residents and information for absentee voters both out of state and overseas (to include students participating in Discover the World this semester).

Brian Brown, assistant vice president for Government Relations at St. John’s University has said about the program,
“While the University is non-partisan and is strictly prohibited from intervening in any political campaign, we want to give our students every opportunity to express their views and concerns about the 2008 Elections during this most exciting time in our American history,” said Brown.

He also emphasized that the program’s two main objectives are voter registration and promote excitement around political issues and the political process.

Although the program had not set a specific goal on the number of new voter registrants, he hopes that they can get everyone who is eligible to vote registered for Election Day.
According to its Web site,, the program will be scheduling several voter registration drives, sponsored by the College Democrats and the College Republicans.

Nick Roloson, the president of the College Democrats, feels positive about the program.

“We are part of Participate ’08 because we believe that every voice should be heard,” Roloson said. This program will be more successful than people think.”

“We’ve already registered over 150 new voters and we’re only in the second week of school. 2008 is one of the most monumental elections in the past fifty years, and we’re here to make sure that everyone is a part of it.” Roloson said.
The program will also feature events such as academic lectures, and guest speakers.

One big event planned this fall is the St. John’s University Participate in ’08 Candidate Forum.

The forum has invited local government officials and candidates for political office to come and speak to the St John’s Queens Campus community in the Belson Moot Courtroom on Monday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m.

On Tuesday, September 23 at 5:00 p.m., there will also be a lecture series hosted on St. John’s Staten Island campus featuring’s political director, Lee Brenner, who will be discussing how the Internet has changed the face of campaigning.

The Website also features links to up to date news for the parties campaigns, a schedule of events, links to nonpartisan organizations such as The League of Women Voters, and will feature blogs for students to communicate with one another about the election.

Some students think that Participate in ’08 will motivate students to vote.

“Above all, the greatest success of Participate in ’08 is that we have managed to reach out to a generation of voters, which has been ignored and branded as not caring” said Chris Puntarell, Vice-President to the general body of College Democrats.

“Clearly, these numbers should send a strong message to those who think that college students will not play a part in this election.”

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