Election drives political contemplation on campus

By Jackie Glosniak

October 31, 2012

With the Presidential Election only days away, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making last-minute speeches around the country, attempting to influence voters and swing states to their sides.

Dominican is doing their part to keep students engaged in the political process, offering programs and debate watching parties to encourage students to tests and expand their political knowledge. Various organizations and academic disciplines have been advertising these events all across campus.

One initiative, hosted by Student Government Association, focused around a mock election and late voter registration. Others have focused on dissecting the debates and exploring discussions over the issues that matter the most.

On Mon. Oct. 22, the communications club Speak Easy hosted a “Debate Watch” for the final debate in the Springer Suites. The event attracted over 25 students, who first watched the entire debate and then led in discussion by communications professor Jennifer Dunn. The goal of the program was for students to gather and discuss the different communications methods both candidates employed, which candidate gave the better performance, and if the debates are even worth watching at all.

“I think it was really good because it brought us together as a group to talk and discuss about the presidential debate,” said Marco Rodriguez, senior and president of Student Government Association. “I liked the talk afterwards and the way the communication club analyzed the President’s positions…and how they behaved.”

On Tues. Oct. 23 and Thurs. Oct. 25, Residence Life sponsored a program around Civil Discourse and the Elections hosted by Stephen Maynard Caliendo, a political science professor from North Central College and political analyst for CBS 2 News in Chicago. Caliendo explained how during campaigns, people often are unable to engage in honest discussions with one another and that people’s opinions on politics focus too often on assumptions and not enough on really understanding the issues or using the correct words to express one’s opinion intelligently.

Many students believed the school did a good job promoting and hosting informative student events.

“I would say Dominican has been successful with promoting events,” junior Holly Sammons said.

“I’ve seen quite a few posters,” she added, “and they’ve brought in a few people to talk about the religious aspect in politics. They could always do a little more…they had something for the last debate but there wasn’t anything for the first two.”

“We should probably do a little bit more,” senior Miranda Skeehan explained, “but I feel like if you don’t know there’s an election happening, then you’ve got your head under a rock. We don’t have Obama and Romney posters up in the hallway, but people have been talking about it and we’ve been watching the debates, so I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job.”

Many students agree that it is a civic duty as an American to vote and have strong reasons behind why they are motivated to stay politically informed.

“[I’m politically aware] so I can take part in society,” senior Alicia Ocampo said.

“Whether it was a good outcome or a bad outcome, I can say that I participated and was an active citizen.”

Sammons agrees on wanting to see her vote play out.

“Obviously it’s our country, and I want to make my vote count, so I don’t want to vote for something that I don’t believe in inadvertently because I didn’t pay attention,” Sammons added.

“I get really annoyed by people who say it doesn’t affect me,” Skeehan. “We’re in America; legislative decisions and executive decisions are of course going to have an effect on my daily life, maybe not directly. But who is in office is going to influence the way America develops. I’m part of America.”

Among the politically aware students at Dominican, several had fairly similar reactions to the presidential debates and campaigns.

“I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney, but I think he has run a better campaign,” junior Jerry Wallace said. “He was more prepared during the debates, and I think it was pretty clear that it set Obama back pretty far. He has done a good job of hiding what he doesn’t know,” Wallace said.

Rodriguez and Skeehan agree that so far, Romney’s campaign appears to be the better of the two.

“He has a lot more money than Obama. I’m not saying Obama didn’t do a good job, but just because Romney has a lot more money, he has more to spend.”

“I think Obama has kind of been relying on the media blowing up what he’s done in the past four years,” Skeehan said. “I am an Obama fan, so this is really hard for me, but Romney has just been giving better speeches this year and coming off as a more legitimate, responsible candidate, whereas Obama has been relying on not the whole platform of the last four years, but still kind of that same ‘here I am, I’m wonderful, I’ll do everything you need’ attitude.”

“I guess it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know prior to watching the debate,” junior Khalisha Pullen said. “I think overall it [the last debate] was a pretty funny debate because I think they both got desperate because Romney was a bully in the prior debates and he was still kind of a bully, but Obama kind of stepped up like he wasn’t going to take it in this round.”

While most believe Romney has run the better campaign, the same majority does not plan on voting for Romney on Nov. 6.

“My vote goes for Obama, because of his civil rights issues that I strongly support,” Rodriguez said.

“I will be voting for Obama because Romney’s social policies kind of scare the bejeezus out of me,” Skeehan said. “Even if Obama’s not for gay marriage or for abortion, I know he’s not dead set against it. I feel that if Romney gets elected we’re going to see a more conservative America.”

“I’m pretty confident that I will vote for our current President,” said Sammons. “I agree with a lot of his social related beliefs and what he’s trying to do with them.

Also, I’ve just always kind of shared more views with the Democrats.”

“I will be voting for a third party candidate, Gary Johnson,” Wallace said.