MSA, GAPSA join to get students to vote

Chad Hamblin

The University’s graduate and undergraduate student governments have set aside their differences this year to get out the vote.

Amy Pierce, vice president of the Minnesota Student Association, and Dan Miller (no relation to The Minnesota Daily staff reporter Dan Miller), vice president of public affairs for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, formed a group to get students involved in government.

The group, called the Student Public Affairs Coalition, is made up of MSA and GAPSA members, as well as members of other student groups.

“There are people who are political junkies and people who have never done anything in politics,” Miller said.

“The other great thing is that it’s not partisan,” he said. “Republicans, Democrats, Green – everybody’s working together on this.”

Miller and Pierce said they will set up tables in Coffman Union for two weeks to register students to vote in the upcoming November election.

SPAC will also try to register students waiting in line at the U Card office.

But Pierce said that’s not all SPAC plans to do.

“I’m not gonna tell students to get out and vote unless they’re educated,” she said. “You need to know what the issues are, and what the candidates stand for.”

To help educate student voters, SPAC sent surveys to

candidates running for the House of Representatives in Minnesota as well as in Congress, Pierce said.

The survey asked candidates about their stance on higher education and student issues. SPAC will post survey responses on their Web site.

Pierce also said SPAC is planning a series of speakers to keep students informed.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will kick off the new series on Sept. 15. The group also plans to host a discussion between Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Miller said.

Miller said SPAC is working on getting high-level surrogates from the Bush and Kerry Campaign to debate on campus.

“We’re hopefully going to have (former Minnesota Gov. Jesse) Ventura be the moderator,” Pierce said. “It’s going to be wild and crazy – It’s got to have that entertainment part so students come, but its also going to be very educational.”

Miller said voter registration and education are the groundwork to get students active at the Capitol.

In addition to having the traditional Lobby Day, where students are encouraged to visit the Capitol, Pierce said she hopes students will visit the Capitol continuously.

“I strongly believe that MSA shouldn’t tell anyone what they should lobby for,” she said, “but we should provide students the opportunity to lobby for what they want.”

Conrad Wilson, a sophomore who has not declared a major, said raising awareness is important, but said he remains skeptical of what MSA can do.

“You know the vote for the (MSA) president? – I think that’s about as much awareness as they raise throughout all the year,” he said.

“I think they do a pretty poor job with keeping in touch with students,” he said.

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