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Young Voters Have Their Say

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Reporting from the campus of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, sophomore, political science major Melissa Henderson tells us what it’s like for the students who are about to witness the final debate between Senators McCain and Obama tonight.

The feeling on campus today is one of pure excitement. Students overall are eager, making plans and hunting down various media outlets, trying to get on national television so they can give a shout-out to mom and dad at home. Students feel honored to be in the midst of tonight’s debate, but because of the shortages of tickets being dispersed, they’re trying to find other ways of getting in. But just hours before everything starts, it’s hectic and tense and we can all feel the security lockdown that is here to ensure the safety of the candidates.

The Africans-American/Latino student representation, in fact, does have a presence, albeit small, in the organizational process of tonight’s big event. I caught up with Akeem Mellis one of the only Black Republicans who is open about his views on campus and is currently working directly with the McCain campaign. Mellis says that representing his political affiliation on campus is “not a burden but a privilege.” He goes on to say, “There needs to be more political diversity with both parties competing for the Black vote.” 

From the Progressive Student Union to the NAACP Hofstra Chapter, students on campus have made it a priority to get their voices heard regarding this election, even if the Secret Service has locked down and limited the amount of student participation in the actual debate hall vicinity. In fact, there was a group of students protesting the war in Iraq earlier this week and they are sure to try to get their agenda heard with so much attention on campus today. 

Since the majority of the freshman and sophomore classes are first-time voters, they are excited to finally get the chance to exercise their right as citizens, despite them not having a presence at the debate. It’s “cool” that the debate is going to be on campus, but Raymond Belgarde, a sophomore political science major, says that after he got shot down from trying to attend the debate, his overall excitement has waned.
 
“When I found out I didn’t win [entrance into the debate], there was no point, because I have to watch it like the millions of people tuning in all over the nation, even though I’m right here on campus.”

But one fact seems to hold true: the entire student body is anxious and energized about tonight. An Obama Club meeting was held on Tuesday, where students painted signs hoping to get the vote out in favor of the Democratic nominee. There were drama performances pertaining to different periods of political history, which featured historical figures such as Frederick Douglass and well-known slaves who escaped slavery from the South. Whether you’re a Hofstra student who plans to watch the final debate like millions of others on television or have been one of the lucky few invited to see it live, the consensus is the same: we’re all ready to exercise our right as young voters and choose a new regime to lead our country onward.

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