Campaigns use music to draw student caucus votes

Hank Long

Politics and rock music collided at Rock the Cauc on Saturday.

More than 100 concertgoers shuffled into the dimly lit The Whole in Coffman Union to listen to local bands Down Risen, Building Better Bombs and The Hawaii Show. University DFL sponsored the event.

Amid the hard-rocking ruckus, students could locate caucus sites, talk with local representatives for three of the four remaining Democratic presidential candidates and learn about caucuses.

Ashley Sierra, a retail merchandising junior who organized Rock the Cauc, said the event started out as a humorous idea among members of University DFL.

“We were just thinking of how we could make caucuses more exciting, and the name just kind of popped out as a joke,” Sierra said.

Sierra said group members thought an event titled Rock the Cauc would catch people’s attention.

“So we started thinking (the event) could be a rock show,” she said.

Students trickled in Saturday wearing buttons or T-shirts of their preferred candidate. Most came to watch the show and learn more about or help promote the caucuses.

Presidential hopeful North Carolina Sen. John Edwards appeared to have a slight advantage in flair-wear worn by supporters, but Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry were also well represented.

A majority of students seemed neutral within the confines of the party. A dozen students were clad in blue University DFL T-shirts with “The left is right for U” emboldened across the back.

Each candidate had a table offering literature, and some of their supporters, such as University alumnus Peter Nickitus, were working the crowd to gain support for candidates.

Nickitus, a lawyer who supports Kucinich, said the University’s activism level surrounding this year’s caucuses is unprecedented.

“This event is really great for getting students out to the caucuses,” he said.

Adam Welle, a political science junior and co-chairman for Students for Kerry, was at the event to generate last-minute support for Kerry, but said getting students to the caucuses was more important.

“It’s important that students go to the caucuses to make sure their voices are heard,” Welle said.

University sophomore Alex Valen didn’t outwardly campaign for a candidate.

“This is just a good chance to learn how to caucus and, if students are interested, learn how to run for a delegate at the caucuses,” Valen said.

“For anybody that wants to get involved in politics, going to a caucus is a great way to get your foot in the door.”

Other caucus events

The College Greens, Students for Kerry and other student groups will put up posters tonight promoting the caucuses.

On Tuesday night the College Republicans will sponsor bus rides from the Superblock to the Republican caucus at the Van Cleve Park Community Center near Dinkytown. Buses depart every 15 minutes.