Hampton University

featured story

Students Fired Up About Primary, Elections

A pink and green "Rock The Vote" sign in the student center is how the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority spread the word.

Three HU charter buses were available for a student trip to a local democratic rally.

HU Junior Class President Moses Wilson made announcements in his classrooms.

HU Students attended a Barack Obama rally in Virginia Beach.

HU Students attended a Barack Obama rally in Virginia Beach.

The push to be active in the Feb. 12 primary election and in the November 2008 campaign is coming from all angles on the HU campus. Already historic in nature, the campaign has ignited a fire in young people.

Whether it's the hit-home issues, the new faces or the race and gender mix, this election opportunity should be stimulating, young voters agree.

"Just participating in the democratic process (is important). We're at a historical juncture," said Milton Bell, a charter member of the HU Chapter of College Republicans.

The pertinent history makers are Democrats Chicago Senator Barack Obama and New York Senator Hilary Clinton, who are the first black man and female, respectively, to make it this far in a presidential race. On the red line are Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Arizona Senator John McCain, U.S. Representative Ron Paul and Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Wilson, 20, helped coordinate a trip to the Virginia Beach Convention Center Feb. 10 for an Obama Rally. Between 120-130 HU students took the ride.

HU student Moses Wilson (3rd from left) traveled to South Carolina to campaign for Sen. Obama.

HU student Moses Wilson (3rd from left) traveled to South Carolina to campaign for Sen. Obama. .

In addition to leading the HU junior class, Wilson is the Virginia Deputy State Coordinator for Students For Barack Obama. This campaign appeals to young people for several reasons, he said.

"He's very inspirational. How charismatic he is reminds me of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. ... with how young they were and weren't (expected) to make change," Wilson said. "It's a situational thing. When you have someone who stood up against something when it wasn't popular ... he just brings hope to people."

Charter buses to the Obama rally Feb. 10 were provided by the university. HU's leader has publicly declared his support for Obama, who was the Feb. 12 victor in the Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia primaries. McCain was the Republican winner.

In the Feb. 4 edition of the Daily Press, Harvey commented on Obama's ability to unite all elements of society.

Obama, "bridges many divides ... young and old, rich and poor, black and white, Christians and Jews, Democrats and Republicans," Harvey said.

This month, Obama opened a campaign office on Cunningham Street, just minutes from the HU campus. Regardless of political affiliation, however, the right to vote and being active in the process is important, said Bell, who admits the HU campus has a small but present group of Republicans. While at home in Orlando, Fla. during the school's winter break, Bell, 21, cast his primary vote for Huckabee.

"I think it's always important to vote," Bell said. "The fact that we exercise the right, considering what many went through to get the right to vote."

Overall, Hamptonians seem well informed about the election across red and blue lines. There are daily updates in HU Junior Anne Dailey's class about which candidate won which state.

"Each day someone will come in and say 'Barack won this state,' " said Dailey, 20. "I think this election has gotten a lot more publicity because there's an African-American and a female running."

Most everyone realizes the differences in this race up the ante.

"There are two minorities running," Bell said. "There's so much at stake."

-Leha Byrd