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Student groups meet to give voters focus

Under Wednesday’s bright, searing sun, with politically driven folk music blaring in the background, students and activists mingled to talk about concerns Americans face this election. Organizations such as the Alliance of Concerned Students, the American Civil Liberties Union, Students for Kerry and the Student Society for Stem Cell Research collaborated to make students more aware of the reasons they should become more politically active.

Marion J. Riggs, founder of SSSCR, said now is the perfect time to get involved in helping to shape the vision for the future.

“Activism is a great way to be of service to our country,” he said.

What drives SSSCR’s cause is the desire to treat and cure diseases for the rest of humanity, Riggs said. There are nearly 300 members of SSSCR.

Kevin Young, vice president of Students for Kerry, said students should be concerned about this election because they are the ones stuck with the decisions made by the current administration.

“Our main goal is to energize the student vote,” Young said.

Young said he doesn’t want students to vote for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry just because he isn’t President George W. Bush. He wants students to be excited about voting for Kerry.

Young said the Democratic Party continues to pay volunteers to help watch polls and get people to come in for early voting.

In another booth, ACLU volunteer Mary Jane Williamson prepared pamphlets and copies of the Florida and U.S. Constitutions for students to take with them. She squinted against the harsh sun as she spoke passionately about ACLU’s mission: to defend people’s access to voting.

Williamson said although it is too late to register to vote, students can still help seniors make it to the polls or volunteer for their party of choice.

The ACLU is a national nonpartisan group that just opened its first Tampa office a few months ago. The Tampa office staffs only two people at this time.

Williamson said students need to be heard where it counts — at the polls.

“Concern isn’t turning into action,” Williamson said, referring to students’ lack of participation in activism. “The simplest way to get involved is to vote.”