NIU more politically active than ever

By Taurean Small

While nationally enthusiasm for this year’s presidential election might have simmered down from 2008, the amount of involvement students at NIU took in politics this time around was inspiring.

During the final weeks of national campaigning, there were many events promoting political awareness on campus. From mock debates to voter registration rallies, NIU’s student population proved to be anything but politically apathetic. The trend of youth interest in politics carried on throughout the town.

A couple of weeks ago, I contacted the County Clerk’s office requesting statistics on youth voter registration in DeKalb. 18-25 year olds registered in DeKalb County for the 2008 General Election totaled 5917. This year over 8416 voters in that same age group were registered at the time. These numbers were definitely reflected in the amount of student enthusiasm in this year’s presidential race.

NIU’s Student Association hosted a presidential election watch party in the Huskie Den in the Holmes Student Center two nights ago and the turnout was beyond belief. Within 30 minutes, the Huskie Den was filled to capacity. At one point, there was security at the entrance holding off a line of students from getting in. After the announcement that President Obama was projected to retain his office for another four years, the Huskie Den erupted with cheers from students once again excited to have participated in political history.

“I felt overjoyed to know he made it back in office on this historic night, especially considering this was my first time voting,” said Kelly Marshall, freshman journalism major.

Much like Kelly, other first time voters were overcome with joy and eventually took to the streets to express it. If you were out and about Tuesday night, you would’ve seen and heard celebration up and down the streets of NIU immediately after the winning announcement. While the scene wasn’t nearly as large as the pandemonium that invaded the campus during the 2008 elections, the amount of inspired students was still admirable.

“The crowd at one point was in a frenzy. Everyone was really excited and there wasn’t a sad face in sight,” Marshall said.

At DeKalb’s local level, politicians used student’s interest in politics to campaign for local elections. During a rally in support of President Obama Monday night hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity inc., County Board candidate Stephen Reid gave an impromptu speech on the importance of voting for the “entire democratic ticket,” including local offices.

Even if the level of excitement dwindles over the next couple of years, being at this university during this election gave me hope that the youth will have an invested interest in our political future. Just maybe we can use this excitement to bring issues that affect our college experience to the forefront of political conversation nationally.