To give the public an idea of where USF students, staff and faculty stand on the 2004 political spectrum, student organizations on campus will be polling and encouraging people to get involved in voting in the presidential election.
Student volunteers will hold a straw poll today at three different locations on campus: outside the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, Russell M. Cooper Hall and the Edgar W. Kopp Engineering building from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Ryan Caruso, Student Government Senate President and the main SG representative at today’s poll, said the main purpose of this event is to raise awareness about the Democratic primaries going on around the country.
“There are not too many students who know about the primaries going on right now, especially the seven taking place (today),” Caruso said.
Susan MacManus, USF political science professor and a political analyst, said a straw poll is when people informally make a selection regarding an issue.
“A straw poll is not only done for fun but to educate students about who is running for office and for the public to see where the USF students are in terms of the presidential candidates,” MacManus said.
According to Omar Khan, student body president, the straw poll has two sections, and it’s going to ask students a series of questions on the seven candidates running for the Democratic nomination. Khan said the straw poll was organized to decrease student apathy regarding the political process and as a result get more students more involved.
Student straw polling has a little bit of a history at USF. MacManus has organized political polling at USF on at least three or four occasions: starting with the 2000 presidential election, the governor’s race in 2002, today’s event and another in the works in November, just in time for the presidential election of 2004.
“I’m always interested in what young people’s opinions are,” MacManus said. “I study generational politics, that’s what I’m interested in, and I think most political scientists would be.”
MacManus said Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science Honor Society and SG are co-sponsoring the event. MacManus added that they expect around 1,000 students to participate in the polls in addition to at least 30 volunteers that will be taking part in the event.
MacManus added that all students, faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in this event regardless if they are registered to vote or not.
Seven states will hold their primaries today: North Dakota, New Mexico, Missouri, Delaware, Arizona, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
In addition, Caruso said, trying to get students to register to vote is the goal of the straw poll.