Students rally around Obama

In the summer of 2006, a group of students founded Students for Barack Obama as a grassroots movement.

As the 2008 election season heats up, students, like other voters across the country, are carefully weighing their presidential options. Much like the rest of America, we are concerned about the issues that dominate the national debate, including Iraq and health care. We are also looking for a candidate who speaks to our particular concerns, who can talk with equal passion and insight about war and health care as he can about student loans and genocide. And most importantly, students are looking for a candidate who can talk about tomorrow as well as today.

On both measures, Students for Barack Obama has found its candidate in Barack Obama. At a college rally just before he declared his candidacy, Senator Obama reminded a packed room of students of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” He challenged students to “grab that arc” and to work to set America on the right path once more. On campuses across the country, students have risen to Obama’s challenge, building a grassroots movement of historic proportions to elect the president our country deserves.

Obama knows that every student in this country should be able to attend college without worrying about graduating under a burden of crippling debt. One indication of his commitment to students is the fact that the first bill he introduced in the Senate was legislation to expand the Pell Grant program that makes college more affordable for students in need of financial assistance. He has shown a nuanced understanding of the issue of access to higher education in this country, and he has proposed to reform corrupt lending institutions that bankrupt all too many students trying to get an education.

Obama has shown that he has the vision and the judgment to lead. Students are rallying behind him as the only candidate who opposed the war in Iraq from the start, before it was popular or politically expedient to do so. He has been a leading voice in Washington on the genocide in Darfur, traveling to the region to raise awareness and getting legislation signed into law to increase funding to work to end the bloodshed there.

With his strong and clear voice on the issues, it is no wonder students were among the first to rise to meet Obama’s challenge to “grab that arc,” and to bend it in the direction of justice. In the summer of 2006, a group of students founded Students for Barack Obama as a grassroots movement to elect Obama. Since then, Students for Barack Obama has grown into one of the largest grassroots organizations in modern political history, with more than 600 chapters and thousands of members on campuses nationwide.

Students at the University are mobilizing, too. Our chapter was founded in the spring of 2007 by students dedicated to the politics of change. U of M Students for Barack Obama has grown into an impressive political force with hundreds of signed supporters. Dozens of dedicated students meet weekly to organize our campus. We hold weekly canvasses to sign up supporters, and are working tirelessly to educate our peers on Obama. We have joined other local leaders like Rep. Keith Ellison and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak in supporting the candidate for real change. As Rybak puts it, “This isn’t just a campaign – it’s a movement.” To join the movement, email us at [email protected]

Adam R. Hennings is a University student and is the chapter leader of University of Minnesota Students for Barack Obama. Please send comments to [email protected]