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ISSUE 118 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/15/2004

MTV rocks voting youth

By Rachel Westberg
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 15, 2004

Early Monday morning, buses and trucks pulled into the Buntrock Commons parking lot to set up for MTV's "Rock the Vote," which promotes the upcoming election.

Sponsored by MTV, "Rock the Vote" is a movement to register young voters and to engage them in conversation about the election. In hopes of raising voter awareness and enthusiasm, "Rock the Vote" is currently conducting a 50-city bus tour, taking the issues and message of youth voting registration across the United States. The Rock the Vote tour seeks to motivate young people to fight for the issues they care about and to take an active role on Election Day.

"It's all about voting and getting registered," Brandon Crase '05, Political Awareness Coordinator (PAC), said. PAC brought Rock the Vote to campus.

With sponsors like Motorola, Sunkist, Ben and Jerry's and Cingular Wireless, the tour hopes to get youth registered and involved in the election through musical concerts, issue tents, fun games and free food.

Students who joined in the festival were treated to free giveaways like shirts, Sunkist soda, Ben and Jerrys ice cream and CDs.

Motorola also sponsored an obstacle course along with free AIM screenname T-shirts.

Many St. Olaf students were involved in the festivities, working booths, signing students up for prizes and helping students register.

Throughout the afternoon, the parking lot was filled with live musical entertainment. Acts included The Copperheads, Dan Dyer, Shelly Fairchild and Keaton Simon.

The day was not full of music and giveaways alone, however. Serious efforts were made to get students registered to vote.

"I came here to register," Greg Hamel '06 said.

Booths were set up all around the parking lot where students could gather information and talk to individuals about issues concerning them in the upcoming election.

The festival encouraged attendees to talk about the issues at stake and promoted conversation.

"I liked it because it was an unbiased way to get people to participate politically," Phyllip Johnson '06 said. "The message came across as 'Make your voice heard' rather than 'Vote Democrat/Republican.' It was really nice that they emphasized a 'get informed' attitude instead of a 'vote blindly' attitude."

Representatives at the venue expressed an interest in turning around youth voting practices. Kevin Scruggs, Cingular Wireless tour manager, agreed that Rock the Vote was a great cause, and a worthwhile venture for the company he represents.

"College student turnout was very low in 2000 and anything we can do to increase voters is great," Scruggs said. "The election really does affect students, especially those who are about to leave school."

Other students felt the same way about Rock the Vote's visit.

"It's a great opportunity to promote and join in the vote," Xin Wang '08 said.

Rock the Vote is one of many nationwide efforts to recruit college-age voters for what is anticipated to be a close election.

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