Election Day set to be flurry of activity

by Beacon Staff • October 29, 2008

The organizers hope for a frenzy. The students are eager to see results. The plan is for a carnival.

Thanks to the bolstered interest of young voters this election cycle, Emerson student organizations have planned a slew of Election Day events, led by the Emerson's Communication Politics and Law Association. Events include a "voter van," a political forecast brunch and a political comedy night in addition to several discussions led by professors and student campaign workers.

"The political scene at Emerson has turned to a more active nature," said Dr. Gregory Payne in an interview. Payne is a 25-year veteran associate professor of communication studies, and one of the more active members of the faculty.

Sara Lester, a freshman film production major, said it's the first time she will vote, and she said she is excited to be a part of it. "It feels like everyone on campus is excited for this election because it feels like we truly have a voice," she said in an interview.

In association with the CPLA, the Emerson Office of Student Life will offer transportation for students registered to vote in Massachusetts using dormitories as their primary address to and from their assigned polling location.

The "voter van" will leave from the bus stop in front of the Little Building at 10 minutes past the hour and 20 minutes to the hour between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. The shuttle will remain at the polling place and offer transportation back to campus at 30 minutes past the hour. No student should have to wait more than 15 minutes before being able to return to campus, according to a press release.

There will be no shuttle for voters who reside in the Doubletree Hotel. The polling location for students registered there is 38 Oak St., just two blocks from the hotel.

Randi Heylek, a junior political communication major and President of CPLA since the fall of 2007, said in an interview she has yet to oversee an event of this magnitude on Emerson's campus.

"Our goal is to turn the Little Building's second floor into Election Day Headquarters, and create a carnival-like atmosphere throughout the day," she said.

From 10-11 a.m. in the dining hall, students can have a photograph taken with Uncle Sam. At the same time Richard West, the interim executive director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies and John Dennis Anderson, an associate professor in the Communication Studies Department, will be hosting a retrospective discussion in the Charles Beard Room, to discuss the events of the campaign season and how they will affect the outcome.

In an interview, Anderson said he will be focused on how political comedians affect voters' minds. "We're witnessing a complete generational shift politically, and a historical moment in regards to race and gender," he said.

From 2-3 p.m., "The Election Experience" will allow Emerson students who have been working on campaigns or helping to promote voting in their study of political science, to share anecdotes from election season trail-beating.

Ana Gabbidon, who spent three and a half months working full-time with the scheduling and advance team for the Obama campaign as a part of the presidential campaign semester, will be among the students who will be speaking at the event.

The presidential campaign semester allowed students to work nearly full-time schedules for various politicians at the candidates' New Hampshire offices and was offered through the Department of Organizational and Political Communication.

The senior political communications major said she will speak about driving Michelle Obama around during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. In an interview, she described it as "a very inspirational experience as she spoke completely off the cuff-I definitely felt motivated," Gabbidon said.

That will be followed by an event which Heylek said she is very excited for, as the CPLA hosts an open house between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in West 1 2 for iFilibuster/i, Emerson's political non-partisan political publication.

"iFilibuster/i was a political publication that was only published once on campus two years ago, but has since been forgotten about-now we [CPLA] want to bring it back." She said all submissions are welcome as students can express themselves through political writing of any kind.

On election night CPLA adviser Dr. Gregory Payne will host a political discussion, titled "Pizza and Politics" in West 1 2 at 6 p.m. Payne said the event will be hosted like a group discussion instead of a lecture, and will vary based on the events of the day.

"It is important to have it open based on the importance of the election," said Payne, who has advised CPLA for 20 years.

The day concludes in West 1 2 at 9 p.m. for a watch of the returns featuring food and music from a WECB DJ.

The Emerson Democrats will be working closely with the CPLA to make the most of Election Day, said Alex Pearson, president of the Emerson Democrats and secretary of the CPLA. "Our members will be split up canvassing in New Hampshire, phone banking in Boston and reminding students on campus to vote throughout the day," the junior political communication major said in a telephone interview.

Kelly Tuke, a junior political communication major and CPLA public relations manager, said in an e-mail interview the CPLA has been anticipating this day for over a year. "We want to give students the opportunity to find at least one or two events to participate in and recognize this long-awaited moment."