Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Election brings opportunity to educate students on civic engagement

The election year political fervor sweeping across the country landed at the DU campus on Sept. 18.

Partners in Learning, along with AUSA Senate, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, College Republicans, the [dis]claimerDU Programs Board, DU Volunteers and the Young Democrats, hosted Election 2008 Kickoff.

The outdoor festival on the Driscoll Lawn helped register voters and provided information about the campaign, ballot and other political issues. More than 20 different campaigns and organizations participated in the event.

“Many of our new students are first-time voters,” says Karen Bensen, director of Partners in Learning. “It’s exciting and intimidating for them, and we wanted to arm them with information.”

The event also featured a “free speech zone” and a soapbox competition. Attendees were offered the opportunity to speak into a megaphone for five minutes on the topic of their choice.

Students who had signed up for the soapbox competition were judged by political science Professor Susan Sterett and writing program Lecturer David Daniels.

Senior international studies and German language major Kasina Entzi won first prize. She spoke on the frustration and exasperation she feels when confronted with mass apathy.

“The presidential elections, and all elections for that matter, are one of our most concrete opportunities to make our voices heard as citizens of this country,” says Entzi. “When people disregard this, they ignore and belittle a right we are incredibly fortunate to be able to exercise.”

The Election 2008 Kickoff fair was the first of nine Partners in Learning events leading up to Election Day. The next event, a debate between political journalists and commentators Dennis Prager and David Sirota on “What’s Better for America – Liberal or Conservative Ideas?” will be held at 7 p.m., South High School, on Sept. 22.

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