A.S. encourages students to become more politically involved

Adria Brodie

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Editor A.S. President Conor Lansdale (left) listens to Vice President Neil Sanchez (right) as he gives his report during the A.S. meeting Tuesday. Photo Credit: Misael Virgen / Assistant Photo Editor

A.S. has taken on the challenge set forth by the California State Student Association (CSSA) to register 10 percent of the California State University (CSU) system’s student population as registered voters before the 2010 California election.

Kenya Parham, 22, director of legislative affairs, addressed the Senate during her report explaining the student voter registration drive and State of the State month, dedicated to increasing students’ awareness about politics.

“I want to go big, so my goal is to register 5,000 students,” said Parham, political science and Pan African studies major.

As one of her duties, Parham was responsible for creating programs for the Fall and Spring semesters that deal with politics and the legislative government.

She said that with the help of A.S. members, reaching 5,000 students should be an attainable goal. A.S. members would need to register 10 students a week for the remainder of the semester, she added.

“I think the goal should be shared between myself and A.S. members,” Parham said.

Parham said she would provide A.S. members with packets containing registration forms and sealable envelopes to make it easier for them to register students on the spot.

She said A.S. members came in contact with their voters throughout the day, so their involvement was another way for students to get to know their leaders.

Janessa Kelly, newly elected senator of social and behavioral science, said that as an A.S. member it was a great experience to increase students’ awareness about politics.

“How can we inform students about what is going on if we as reps are not informed ourselves?” Kelly said.

She added that voter registration on campus was a great way for students to get involved.

Jonathan Polus, senator of humanities, said he liked the way Parham encouraged A.S. to get involved and was  confident they could get 5,000 students registered.

“It is extremely important to register because students don’t realize how this next governor’s race is going to affect their future,” Polus said. “If you have the ability to make a difference, you should start as a student.”

The State of the State month

The State of the State month is the second program that will take place in the entire month of October. Parham said she wanted to eliminate multiple events occurring throughout the semester before the election, so she decided to use the month of October as a political awareness month.

“After March 4, there was a shift in students’ involvement in politics on campus,” Parham said. “I want to maintain that momentum by giving students a month to learn and voice their opinion about what’s going on.”

March 4 was a statewide day of protest for students and faculty to take action against budget cuts and increased tuition for college campuses. Some CSUN students and faculty also attended a rally that occurred in March 2009 at Sacramento, the state capital.

Parham said a Ballot Forum, a Political Radio Forum and a Presidents’ Town Hall Meeting are three events taking place during the State of the State month to address those issues and more.

Parham said the Ballot Forum would give students the opportunity to learn the pros and cons of each proposition. The Political Radio Forum would air two extremes from both sides of politics and broadcast live for two days using CSUN radio and an anonymous radio station.

She added that the first Presidents’ Town Hall Meeting, which will take place the morning of Oct. 20, will include CSUN president Jolene Koester, A.S. president Conor Lansdale and faculty president Steven Stepanek. Students unable to attend the morning session can attend a second Presidents’ Town Hall Meeting hosted in the evening at a later date.

Parham said the events have been planned, but details such as a specific time and location are still being worked out.

“I wanted to plan fun events, yet challenge students to make them think,” she said.

Parham said she is not working with a committee to make each event successful, but encouraged CSUN students to contact the A.S. office to volunteer.