Students visit more than 1,000 classes to get out the vote

Emy Takada

ASG President Jonathan Arevalo, left, and Vice President Troy Sanders endorse Prop. N at the Nov. 2 Get-Out-The-Vote rally.

Sean Campbell

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Thousands of Mesa students will have the opportunity to vote today, in part, thanks to Mesa College’s get-out-the-vote volunteers and the Associated Student Government.

The campaign registered nearly 4,000 Mesa attendees for today’s election-more than any community college in the district.

“As representatives of the student body, we believe that it is our job to help the students’ voice be heard,” Troy Sanders, ASG vice president, said. “The ASG supports any action which will increase student involvement, locally or nationally.”

The Mesa get-out-the-vote campaign numbers, which were put out by The La Jolla Group, a political consulting firm in San Diego, crushed the three other community colleges participating. City College was second. They registered 2,000 voters-only half of what Mesa did. In fact, all three competing colleges combined still came up 310 voters short of Mesa’s number.

Bob Glaser, a political consultant with The La Jolla Group, stated that Mesa probably registered more voters than any community college in San Diego because no other colleges, beside the ones in the district, had an organized campaign.

Get-out-the-vote volunteers registered students by visiting classrooms one by one, sometimes pre-arranging the visit, sometimes just dropping in. They handed out voter registration cards and ask the student’s to fill them out.

With 43 get-out-the-vote volunteers, they visited 1,365 classrooms.

ASG President Jonathen Arevalo said that there is no better way to get things changed than by voting and encouraging others to vote.

“If you’re complaining about things, but you’re not voting, how are you making a difference?” Arevalo said.

While most teachers seemed to think the campaign was good, some teachers complained that the get-out-the-vote volunteers took up too much class time. They said the volunteers took the students through line by line, instead of just dropping off the forms.

However, assistant professor of sociology, Tanya Kravatz’s believed that going through the registration ballot, line by line, was appropriate and good for students with questions.

“Some of it is confusing,” Kravatz said. “Also, if you just hand people a piece of paper, chances are they’re not going to fill it out.”

Ramzi Shalabi, Mesa student, got a letter sent back to him saying the name on his registration form didn’t match.

“It frustrated me because I wrote my name the same way,” said Shalabi. “I think the system might be messed up.”

Shalabi thought the get-out-the-vote campaign was for a good cause. Volunteers visited all four of his classes, and many times the volunteers would have to come back a couple times until finally permitted to speak.

“Teachers didn’t except them a lot of the time,” he said. “They’d say, ‘No, I’m busy.'”

Some of the 43 campaign volunteers were ASG members. Mesa ASG President Jonathan Arevalo said that students and community members wanted to volunteer.

“That was big for me,” he said. “They wanted to do it because they wanted to make a difference.”

About 40 percent of the total 4,000 registered students were “vote by mail.”

Many aspects of this voting campaign were assisted by Mesa faculty, according to ASG Vice President Sanders, and therefore it was a nonpartisan voting campaign.

Sanders said the registration push was to give students a voice. He spoke to the board of trustees at Mesa’s annual meeting, and explained why 4,000 votes could be so important.

“If you believe that small groups of organized citizens cannot change the world,” he said, quoting Harriet Tubman. “You’re wrong, because, in fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Although the get out the vote campaign was nonpartisan, ASG representatives said students should support Proposition N.

“We believe there could be no greater initiative in the interest of the students than to give money to SDCCD for the building and repair of facilities,” Sanders said.

Two rallies, supporting the proposition, were held on campus in the last five days.

For more information on how to start a get-out-the-vote campaign visit www.bipac.net

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