University of Maryland seeks to keep students politically engaged after election -- Gazette.Net


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University of Maryland, College Park, officials are keeping the momentum going to see students politically engaged after a positive turnout at the polls Nov. 6.

For the 2012 general election, 1,715 registered voters came to the polls at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, compared to 1,556 in the 2008 election, according to the Terps Vote Coalition, a nonpartisan UM campus organization that promotes voting and offers election information.

Beyond the presidential race was a high-profile contest among Maryland voters for key ballot issues such as a gambling expansion and same-sex marriage, both of which passed.

Shane Bryan, coordinator for the Terps Vote Coalition, said the university’s marketing efforts such as hosting debate parties, sending messages to students and posting informational fliers are ongoing efforts they hope will continue to boost student voter turnout.

“Definitely the ballot issues were what students were talking the most about,” he said. “We’ve heard it in many rallies that we’ve had on campus. It shows that the younger voter population is more socially progressive.”

Following a UM-sponsored Election Night Watch event at the Riggs Alumni Center, the university held two post-election analysis events for students to engage in discussions and be attentive to current issues and their impacts on the nation’s future.

“This lets us take a step back and figure out what happened. It offers a level of discourse beyond the soundbites we hear on TV, and it’s engaging to everybody,” said Donald F. Kettl, UM’s School of Public Policy dean.

About 80 students, and some faculty, attended the School of Public Policy-led event Nov. 7 that included analysis from public policy professor Chris Foreman and Jeremy Rosner, the executive vice president at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Washington, D.C.-based research and consulting firm.

“It was good to hear their perspectives on what went right, what went wrong and how the future is important for our country,” said Nickolas Roth, 22, a public policy graduate student, who said military spending and avoiding foreign conflict were his top issues in this election.

“I’m always interested in learning about analysis and the pros and cons of an election,” said Natalie Monkou, 25, a public administration graduate student. “I think there’s a lot of excitement from students wanting to be involved and keep up with current events.”

The discussion focused on issues such as effectiveness of both presidential campaigns, current strength of the Republican Party and expectations for President Barack Obama’s second term.

A second post-election event Nov. 13 was sponsored by UM’s Department of Government and Politics and featured a panel discussion with a variety of UM professors speaking on presidential and congressional elections, campaign finances, immigration and social policy and voting reform.

Kettl said the School of Public Policy will host a presentation by H.E. Michael Collins, ambassador of Ireland to the U.S., who will speak on economic recovery as yet another way to engage students.

djgross@gazette.net