SG, Pi Sigma Alpha to gauge students on election issues

To gauge public opinion before the Nov. 2 elections, student volunteers from the USF Student Government and political Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha, are hosting a straw poll today.

The poll, held from 10 a.m. — 2 p.m., will be conducted at three locations: The Phyllis P. Marshall Center, the Edgar W. Kopp Engineering Building and the College of Medicine.

The straw poll is a 10-question survey that will be given out to students, faculty and staff members throughout the day. The survey will focus on the presidential race, the U.S. Senate race and the eight constitutional amendments.

“It shows that campuses are interested in politics,” said Susan MacManus, political science professor and adviser for the Political Honor Society.

The purpose of the poll, MacManus said, is to dispel the impression that students are not interested in politics and to prompt students to become more aware of amendments.

Although during the 2000 presidential election students had the lowest voter turnout, the upcoming presidential election is expected to grab the attention of younger voters.

“Anytime you have a war and jobs as dominant issues, young people are tuned,” said MacManus.

The political climate in the United States has reached an unprecedented fervor. With even celebrities aggressively urging the younger crowd to vote, campaign organizers on both sides are trying to appeal to youth, particularly college students.

“Seeing how close the 2000 elections were means USF students see their votes will count,” MacManus said.

“I’m positive students are going to vote more,” said Bijal Chhadva, USF student body president.

Beginning in the summer of 2004, the USF student body government has actively promoted voting on campus by registering first-time voters and absentee voters.

“Our legislature, the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives, those are the ones who allocate money to universities,” said Chhadva. “Students should check out which candidates vote in students’ best interests.”

This is the third time the organizations have teamed up to present a straw poll on USF’s campus. In February, the organizations found that 30 percent of the respondents who would vote in the primaries said they would vote for Sen. John Kerry. The poll also suggested that whoever won the Democratic nomination would be able to count on significant support among college-age voters.

More than 1,000 students and faculty are expected to participate in the straw poll.