A few University alumni celebrated Homecoming Saturday night in Dinkytown campaigning for votes.
University alumni Dean Barkley and Jack Uldrich were two of 13 candidates running for local, state and national positions who spoke between bands at the Minnesota Student Association’s Rock the Vote Concert. They urged former and current students alike to vote on election day.
Reform Party U.S. Senate candidate Barkley, who graduated from the University in 1976, donned his maroon and gold letter jacket from his days as a Gophers rugby champion. He used the night’s festivities to stress the importance of voting.
“If you don’t want to pay off a $5.1 trillion debt, you better get involved,” Barkley told a crowd of more than 1,000 celebrating Homecoming in a tent set up on 13th Avenue Southeast between 4th and 5th streets southeast. “If you guys don’t show up (to vote), you’re gonna get what you deserve, I hate to say it.”
Uldrich, a Carlson School of Management 1991 graduate and 5th District candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, echoed Barkley’s message on the debt. Struggling to be heard above the rowdy alumni and students, Uldrich said, “Who’s going to pay it? You’re going to pay it.”
Barkley told the crowd he got involved in political issues when he was in college in 1968 because he didn’t want to go to Vietnam. Barkley told students that they could lower the drinking age to 18 if they too got involved in politics. Uldrich focused on the debt.
Despite the candidates’ best efforts to connect with the younger voters present, most students and alumni came to drink, hear the bands and meet with friends, not listen to political appeals.
“We came to see the bands,” said Glynis Fenton, a College of Liberal Arts senior, who came to the concert with her roommate. “I had not a clue that this was a Rock the Vote Concert.”
A group of recent University graduates said that they came to the concert because they always celebrated Homecoming in Dinkytown. All five agreed they didn’t want to hear from the candidates on Homecoming night.
“You guys are a tough crowd, you know,” Barkley said as he took the stage following an hour-long set by local band The Billy’s.
Hennepin County Commissioner candidate Peter McLaughlin, admitted the Homecoming crowd was “a tough room to talk with,” but said he wanted to speak with the University community because he feels students can make a difference in the political system.
“This is an incredible time in American politics,” McLaughlin said. “We have a great committed nation and young people can make a difference.”
CLA sophomore, Catherine Hogue, an MSA senator and organizer for the event, said all the politicians she spoke with after the event were extremely impressed with the event despite the fact that few in the crowd seemed to be listening. “Nobody walked away with a frown,” Hogue said.