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ISSUE 121 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/14/2008

Political plans discussed

By Aaron Rozanski
Associate Editor


Friday, March 14, 2008

As the heart of campaign season approaches and everyone turns their attention to national and state elections, the College Democrat and Republican chapters of St. Olaf are gearing up for a promising year. With the picture not entirely clear, both chapters are in exciting positions waiting to narrow their agendas and begin campaigning.

"It is difficult to really focus our attention just yet because we don't have a nominee," said Democrat fundraising director Jason Teiken '10. "Once candidates become clear we can work more accurately with specific issues and appeal to our specific voter blocks."

This early in the elections, both organizations are working with all students and hoping to continue the interest in political issues and the growing awareness of students.

"For this year, a lot of our focus is on chapter building and raising awareness on Democratic issues on campus," said Democratic Chair Daniella Voysey '08. "Next year we'll see much more information on the specific candidates."

With such extensive agendas, both organizations sponsor events around campus aimed at promoting political awareness and knowledge about key issues that affect not only students, but the needs of the greater population as well.

"Some would say that the College Republicans' main goal is to build a coalition of volunteers for campaigns; others that it is to inform the college community about Republican issues," said Republican chair Sharon Grawe '08. "And still others would say that it is to inspire and inform Republicans on campus."

Events from letter-writing workshops and political career panels to coloring contests, the College Democrats and Republicans have a lot to offer for students interested in becoming civically engaged.

While on campus activities are certainly a main focus of both organizations, their sights are also set to the greater political arena.

"We attended the Coleman kick-off event in the fall, and we have a contact person working with that campaign," Grawe said. "Soon we will be in contact with all the campaigns in the Southeast and Metro areas."

Along with planning events in and around campus and organizing with outside campaigns, both organizations are in regular connection with their greater local and state level affiliate chapters as well.

"The biggest way we prepare is by staying in contact with the Minnesota College Republicans, the local party and the state party," Grawe said. "We have ongoing contact with them so that we are prepared to volunteer for candidates, attend parades, table on behalf of candidates and whatever else needs to be done."

The communication with these greater chapters allows them the ability to both share what is happening on the Hill and also inform students here of what is happening in other parts of the state.

"We hold monthly meeting with the Minnesota Youth Democratic Farmer-Labor Party to discuss various issues and strategies," Voysey said. "While it's important to appeal to voters here on campus, it is also helpful to have outside contacts."

Certainly the upcoming days and weeks will prove critical for both organizations. As primaries begin taking shape and possible candidates emerge, the agendas get narrower and more specific issues are discussed.

"The candidates determine which voter blocks are most worth pursuing, which certainly changes the way we campaign," Grawe said.

For now, however, the organizations have their sights set on a heightened campus awareness of important political issues. For students interested in becoming civically engaged or joining either chapter, alongside the numerous events around campus there are weekly meetings hosted by each organization.

"You can attend PAC dinners, civic engagement events or sponsored speakers," Grawe said. "Or simply stop by one of the weekly meetings for each organization or contact any of the leaders of campus political groups."

The College Republicans will be hosting many visitors including economist King Banaian and attorney Roger Magnuson on the last three Thursdays in April.

The College Democrats are preparing for Blue Week, a week devoted to the advancement of democratic issues that will run from April 6-10.





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