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Political clubs prepare as election looms

October 30, 2008

With the 2008 election in sight, UW-River Falls’ political clubs have been busy preparing for the big day. The College Republicans, College Democrats, the Union of Democratic Progressives and Rise Up for Women’s Rights all have their own plans leading up to Nov. 4.

College Republicans student contact Casie Kelley said in an e-mail interview that the organization is a marketing tool for the Republican Party on both the state and national levels.

“In my group we do as much as possible with the little manpower we have to get out our information,” Kelley said.

The College Republicans have also done literature drops in various communities near River Falls. Other activities included “Running for McCain,” in which the club jogged around campus wearing shirts promoting McCain and one member representing the group on an episode of Focus on U, a UWRF broadcast news feature.

Finally, the College Republicans had set up a table in the University Center to inform people about Republican candidate John McCain and his policies. The group, which Kelley said has between 15 and 20 members, is advised by business and economics professor Brian Huffman and meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the St. Croix River Room of the University Center.

College Democrats co-Chair Thomas Friant said his group was also hosting a table in the University Center from Oct. 29-31 to endorse Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

“Every week I would say we have anywhere from 15 to 30 people at our meetings. Of course this is pre-election, so that’s pretty high,” Friant said in a telephone interview.

The College Democrats have primarily been working on getting votes for Obama, which was the same thing Sen. Russ Feingold talked about when he visited the campus on Oct. 27, Friant said. The group meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the 1874 Room of the University Center and is advised by political science professor Davida Alperin.

The Union of Democratic Progressives is one of the newer campus organizations. Student contact for the group, Alex Halverson, said he and three other students founded the club this semester after leaving the Socialist Alternative group.

“We thought we could better realize our ideals with a new and fresh political organization rather than trying to work within Socialist Alternative, which is part of a larger national organization,” Halverson said in an e-mail interview.

The UDP emphasizes third-party candidates and ideas, and plans to campaign for Ralph Nader before Nov. 4 to draw attention to his presidential campaign. Other plans include two group discussions, one about alternative political parties and the other about reforming the current voting system in the U.S.

The group is advised by economics professor Jackie Brux and meets on Thursdays in the Resource Room of Davee Library.

Another student organization with pre-election plans is Rise Up For Women’s Rights, advised by assistant English professor Greta Gaard. Co-founder Teresa Pollock said the group was started earlier this year.

“I formed Rise Up for Women’s Rights with another student, Nikki Shonoiki, who is on the Diversity and Women’s Initiatives Committee on the Student Senate,” Pollock said in an e-mail interview. “We formed the group to bring awareness to the issues of reproductive choice, [and] sexual and domestic violence awareness, as well as eating disorder issues.”

The group will be hosting pro-choice tables every week leading up to the election to distribute information on John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s abortion views. The tables will lead up to a larger event that involves putting 300 flags in front of the University Center. Pollock said each of the flags will represent ten women, roughly equaling the number “who died of illegal abortion deaths in the U.S. before Roe v. Wade.”