Campus politicos gear up for the election

The elections are coming — and Penn students of many political stripes are getting in on the act.

Student groups dedicated to the campaigns of Al Gore, George W. Bush and Ralph Nader are going into overdrive as Nov. 7 draws ever nearer.

Penn for Gore and Penn for Bush both formed last year out of the College Democrats and College Republicans. The Nader group was formed last March. “I had lunch with Nader when he came to campus and he said it would be a good idea to start a group here,” said Penn Greens Campus Coordinator Emily Quesada (C’03). “So in the Bucks County coffeeshop on Sansom Street, we started the Penn Green Party.”

Penn for Gore co-chair Michael Bassik (C’01), who may be better known as the Undergraduate Assembly president, is also Pennsylvania’s statewide coordinator for Students for Gore. “Last semester, the Gore campaign called upon the Penn group over 20 times to help with everything from fundraisers to public events,” said Bassik. “If there was ever a need for a motorcade in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, they always turned to Penn students first.”

The Republicans, although smaller in number, have also been busy. “It’s always a challenge to build Republican support on college campuses, which are predominantly liberal,” said Penn for Bush co-chair Meredith Voliva (C’03). “But we have received favorable feedback. People have been willing to listen.”

During the first week of October, Penn for Gore, Penn for Bush and the Penn Green Party participated in an Undergraduate Assembly-sponsored voter registration drive on Locust Walk. The three groups also plan to hold a mock debate.

Alas, the candidates are not treated so equally by the election establishment. On Oct. 3, the first presidential debates were held in Boston, and included only Bush and Gore.

So while student Democrats and Republicans held debate-watching parties, some Penn Greens traveled to Boston to protest the exclusion of third-party candidates.

“Maybe we’ll have a protest-watching party afterwards,” laughed Quesada. “But nothing’s going to come out of these debates that I don’t already know. The two major candidates agree on almost everything.”


Originally published on October 12, 2000