Campus prepares for 2008 election

Megan Welch

The 2008 election has had a great effect on the United States, the likes of which are evident on Villanova’s campus. In addition to the existing University partisan organizations, multiple facets of the University are working to generate election buzz and educate the student body.

Faculty members are participating in the election mania through the forthcoming Presidential Election Series to be held on various dates in the first floor lounge of Falvey Memorial Library.

Yesterday, Lara Brown lectured on the types of politicians who run for president and the incentives placed on their campaign by the election system within which they must operate. As a member of the political science department, Brown offered her opinion on the possible presidential victor.

Several other speakers will participate in this series discussing pertinent election issues from various viewpoints. During October, Hispanic Cultural Heritage month, political science professor Catherine E. Wilson will speak about her new book, “The Politics of Latino Faith,” highlighting the political behavior of Latinos and their growing importance as the largest minority in the United States.

In late October, David M. Barrett, a professor in the political science department, will address the escalating concerns of national security in terms of the election.

He will focus on the proposals set forth by each candidate and the temptation of each to oversimplify the answers to difficult global issues.

Finally, following November’s verdict, professor Matthew Kerbel will assess the outcome of the costliest and possibly most historic election in history. He will help to answer difficult questions about the future of America following the George Bush administration.

Last spring, Kerbel taught a class emphasizing the primary stages of the election. The class returned this fall to examine the election both before and after the final outcome. The class is non-partisan in nature and provides students with an in-depth look at the media hype surrounding the election. The class explores different viewpoints of video and print news coverage as well as the newest media form – blogs.

“In order to be informed on the issues, the press has to talk about them – and talk about them in a meaningful way,” Kerbel says.  “Our job, in part, is to determine if they’re doing that, and if so, what is the nature of the discussion?”

Student response to the class has been positive. Junior Dave Ederer said he took the class to become more informed about the various campaign issues but has observed some interesting drawbacks to the constant media coverage along the way.

“As we go on, the members of the class have noticed what little coverage of substantiative issues there is and how many non-issues are portrayed as issues,” Ederer said.

Villanova’s student government is working to turn student’s attention toward the election through a different method: the vote itself. SGA Outreach is working with the College Democrats, College Republicans and Students for Obama in a non-partisan effort to increase voter participation at Villanova.

Kaitlin Pertak, senior co-chair of the outreach segment of SGA, believes it is vitally important for college students to vote.

“I’ve seen a lot of students have very passionate views on many different issues going on in our world right now, and they deserve to be heard,” Pertak said.  

“Pennsylvania is a swing state, so there is a huge opportunity for the students to make a difference and determine which candidate will lead our country for the next four years,” she said.

To support this call to vote, SGA will have a table at the Oreo until the end of September, providing the opportunity for new voters to register. They will be handing out ballots to be filled out and sent back for students who wish to avoid the postage fees.

A second option is to obtain an absentee ballot. SGA will also assist students in this process.

On Sept. 24-25, the operation will head to the residence halls for those who missed the opportunity to register or find out about absentee ballots at the Oreo.

Along with this call to vote, SGA is working with the on-campus partisan affiliated groups to provide information about the Democrat and Republican parties as well as their respective candidates, Obama and McCain. Slide shows of the compiled information will play in Bartley Hall. Though students are inundated with election information on a daily basis, these slide shows should provide the opportunity to view important media information laid out in a simpler manner.

SGA Outreach, while promoting voting in general, is also encouraging Villanova students to make educated decisions about their future.