With the United States presidential election only 55 days away, both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have ramped up their campaigns in an attempt to win over voters from as many demographics as possible.
Young voters are a key demographic that both campaigns have worked to win over, and student groups on college campuses are a key part of that effort.
Leaders of USC Trojans for Romney and Trojans for Obama said their groups are committed to serving their respective candidates and seeking to win over as many student voters as possible.
Alex Yebri, the president of USC Trojans for Romney and a senior majoring in political science, said his group is working to increase involvement on campus.
“USC Trojans for Romney is working tirelessly to lend enthusiastic conservative and independent college students the chance to engage in one of the most important elections of our generation,” said Yebri. “Most importantly, we are working to bring political awareness to the student body at a time when college students feel the pain of high unemployment, trillion dollar deficits and broken promises.”
Both groups plan to achieve greater student engagement through a series of events. During the national conventions, for example, the two groups helped sponsor screenings of the respective presidential acceptance speeches.
“We will also co-host screenings of the presidential and vice presidential debates with the Unruh Institute of Politics, after which our members will have an opportunity to speak on panels to provide analysis on the state of the campaigns,” said Kaya Masler, president of Trojans for Obama.
The two groups work closely with the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, helping it plan and promote programs like “The Road to the White House,” a series of panels leading up to the election focusing on different political issues each week. The panels take place every Wednesday at noon in either the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Forum or the Rosen Family Screening Theatre. Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute, said the panels are meant to provide students with analysis.
“In a world that’s dominated by Fox and MSNBC, it’s very easy to only listen to those people who you already agree with,” Schnur said. “We put together these panel discussions to give students and faculty an opportunity to hear a wide range of voices across the political spectrum.”
Schnur also emphasized the importance of breaking students out of a passive mindset.
“We believe strongly in the principle of student participation, not just as audience members, but as panelists,” Schnur said. “We believe that it’s important for students to be part of the conversation.”
In addition to the campaigning on campus, both USC Trojans for Romney and Trojans for Obama plan to travel to Nevada, a key battleground state.
“We will be traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada twice in October to register voters and persuade key voters in the swing state,” Masler said.
According to Yebri and Masler, both groups will be involved in registering voters and making phone calls to potential voters.
“In the weeks leading up to the election, Trojans For Romney will be active in registering voters,” Yebri said. “Our organization will also be holding call nights.”
Additionally, Trojans for Obama plan to up the number of phone calls they make to potential voters.
“Last semester our organization made over 3,000 calls for the Obama campaign,” Masler said. “We have upped our goal to 5,000 for this semester and hope to register as many new and old voters, on and off campus, as possible.”
Yebri stressed the importance of this election for students and said their groups provide a forum for students to participate in discussion about the election.
“We are facing an election that mirrors that of 1980,” Yebri said. “People are struggling as unemployment has been over 8 percent for 43 months, wages have dropped and half of college graduates can’t find work,” Yebri said. “Trojans For Romney is a venue for students to speak their mind about the future of this country and provides students an opportunity to make a difference.”