With the November election fast approaching, CSUN should prove an exciting place to be. College campuses have historically been centers of free thought and debate in trying political times.
As the youth in America, we carry a responsibility to be at the forefront of participant democracy by carrying a good understanding of the issues at hand. This allows us to serve as opinion leaders in our families and communities.
The student vote, whether for a candidate or ballot measure, is one of the most coveted. Rock the Vote reported that voter turnout in the 2004 presidential election among 18 to 29-year-olds jumped 9 percent when compared to the previous election.
With 49 percent in this age bracket voting in 2004 and even greater numbers expected this year, students can bank on voter registration drives and representatives from both parties becoming a regular part of the CSUN scene in the coming weeks.
Because most of us have not had a lifetime of voting experience from which to form opinions and allegiances, the typical student is much more likely to switch political parties, or change his or her mind on an issue.
Political campaigns and lobbyists know this too. In the last presidential election, the GOP and Democrats spent millions of dollars to send professional attack teams to college campuses all across the U.S.
Like television advertisements with the aim of presenting a particular outlook, these volunteers, or paid party representatives, are not exactly designed to be objective.
We, as the CSUN community, can engage with these purposeful visitors while on campus and take advantage of a real opportunity to further educate ourselves. But we must remember that campaigners and lobbyists of all shapes and sizes bring with them a clear-cut motive, and carry themselves in a way designed to buy your vote or support.
Interest groups, fundraisers and independent work-for-hire signature gatherers continue to use tactics to reach the CSUN community that sometimes border on harassment. These assorted politicos have every right to be present on campus. Indeed they can enrich knowledge among our community when approached with caution.
That said, no student or CSUN community member should have to go through the daily ordeal of being forced into an unwelcome political discourse. Or for that matter have to stop every five feet between classes to decline to donate to various charities.
According to the CSUN University Policies and Procedures for any individual or group soliciting donations on campus:
‘All individuals, and clubs, groups, and organizations composed of members other than students and employees must obtain the appropriate event and space reservation form from the Matador Involvement Center located at the west end of the University Student Union.’
The Matador Involvement Center can be reached at (818) 677-5111. Any group planning on tabling or otherwise creating an on-campus presence should contact them for the appropriate forms and guidelines.
In addition, individuals or groups seeking to reach students on campus are subject to additional regulations concerning what they can and cannot do.
Time, place and manner states that these groups are not to impede members of the CSUN community, physically or otherwise, as they seek to present their voice the First Amendment guarantees them.
Do your homework from a variety of informative resources and these visitors can be a great source of valuable information on where the candidates stand and the ballot measures we will be asked to vote on this November.
Don’t fall prey to the guerilla tactics used by some of the campaigners. If you don’t have time to stop and chat, be firm in this, or just ignore them altogether. Remember that these people are usually paid for their time and you don’t owe them anything.
If you see a particular group harassing students, or if you are solicited by a charity that could be of dubious origins, ask them if they have a permit for their activities, then contact the Matador Involvement Center.
CSUN is our campus and it is our responsibility to keep it a place where all ideas and viewpoints have free reign, but in a manner respectful to each and every member of our community.