Election Result Party Draws 300 Students

    Over 300 students gathered in the Great Hall to watch the presidential election results on election night. Students who attended the event, billed as “Election Night 2012: A Political Party” and hosted by UCSD’s political science department, watched CBS coverage of President Barack Obama’s re-election after a panel of student leaders discussed the importance of the 2012 election.

    The event began at 7:30 p.m. with the student panel — which consisted of A.S. President Meggie Le, Student Organized Voter Access Committee Executive Associate Kyle Heiskala and Guardian Managing Editor Margaret Yau.

    Le said that UCSD now has one of the highest numbers of registered voters compared to other UC campuses, a large improvement from a few years ago, when UCSD had the lowest numbers of all the UC campuses.

    “For so long, we’ve been regarded as socially dead and apathetic,” Le said. “This year is especially active after having hosted the University of California Student Association Congress, as well as having the USCA president be a UCSD undergrad.”

    Le said that 28 percent of voters in California were students, according to election returns.

    “Students controlled the last election, so we can do it this year too,” Le said. “We don’t realize the amount of influence we have.”

    Student panel members discussed the various changes that would take place in relation to Proposition 30.

    “The people of California have voiced that they do prioritize education, and it’s the state’s turn to take action on it now,” Le said.

    Heiskala said the total number of students SOVAC registered in 2012 was over 5,000, a notable improvement from the 4,000 UCSD students who were registered to vote in 2008. Heiskala said SOVAC looks forward to continuously increasing this number.

    “Through voting, students are shaping the way the government will interact with students in the future,” Yau said. “Whatever way you chose to vote, you have a made a difference.”

    A brief panel of faculty members followed the student panel.

    All presentations ended at 8 p.m. , when the attendees resumed watching election night results. Updates on election results were broadcast live from CBS on a large screen. Many students were Obama supporters and cheered loudly as the number of electoral votes for Obama increased. Once Ohio’s winning vote was confirmed, the room erupted into applause and cheers, with sudent chanting, “Four more years.”

    Political Science professor Thad Kousser said it was no surprise that majority of the students in the room were fervent Obama supporters.

    “Students are always more liberal than the rest of society, and Californians are more liberal than everyone,” Kousser said. “But I think we did see some Ron Paul supporters, some Mitt Romney supporters, and we saw that college students at UCSD are not a political monolith.”

    Once presidential results were announced at around 8:15 p.m., Kousser held a quick wrap-up panel and brought the event to an early close.

    “There are two ironies that come with the re-election of Obama,” Kousser said. “First, Obama will come to eclipse Bill Clinton as the great modern Democratic president, although Clinton greatly helped Obama’s campaign. Second, California voted democratically for the electoral vote, yet a conservative view is reflected in the proposition results.”

    Le said that students could expect to keep certain government programs protected for the next four years, including funding for higher education, student loan accessibility, and protected healthcare programs. Obama established permanent reform for federal institutions and plans to help fund higher education for middle- and lower-class families, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

    “[Obama] also sides with more of the progressive issues,” Le said. “I think that’s something college students are specifically interested in and that’s what we put our heart behind.”

    This event marked the fourth time the political science department has held an election night involving the student body. Kousser said that each successive election night event has seen a bigger turnout than the one before it. Students were respectful toward one another’s differing political views by refraining from making negative statements.

    “Students have become so engaged here, and this year we didn’t even give anyone extra credit for showing up,” Kousser said.

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