Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 3, 2012

Apathy in campaign on MSU campus

The Independent

MOREHEAD — A contentious presidential race has voters fired up across the country. Not so at Morehead State University and other college campuses across the country.

Less than a week before Election Day, pollsters are seeing a surprising lack of interest among college-aged voters. That lackadaisical attitude turned up at Morehead State last week when a political debate was canceled for lack of interest.

The University of Maryland, in a poll of undergraduates earlier this year, found that most have little interest in politics, perhaps giving news stories about political issues a once over, perhaps not.

“Students on campus couldn’t care less about politics,” Ashley Masters, a sophomore from Elizabethtown, said. “Some may watch a debate to say they’re informed, but they don’t really pay attention to what’s being said.”

According to the Maryland study, many students on college campuses gather their information on politics from the Internet, cellphones and word of mouth. Web sites like Yahoo! News are popular with the college crowd because they provide short snippets of major stories that are quick reads.

The Morehead State debate, which was to pit the leaders of the Young Republicans and Young Democrats discussing the presidential race, was called off abruptly.

“The campus Republican organization is in a formative condition; the Democrats are barely more organized,” Erik Lewis, government instructor and advisor for the Democrat organization on campus, said.

Lewis believes the student’s lack of interest is rather complex, saying it could deal with “the lack of competitiveness of the presidential election in Kentucky, the shear time and effort involved in being a college student, the tendency of some to feel insecure about their politics and a variety of other factors.”

Faculty sponsor of the Young Republicans, Professor Michael Hail, said the three televised presidential debates drew a lot of interest with students gathering at the Bert Combs building to watch.

“We averaged over 100 attending each of them,” Hail said.

In Kentucky, Republican Mitt Romney is expected to trounce President Barack Obama. Obama remains an unpopular political figure in Kentucky. In the May primary election, 42 percent of Democratic voters marked their ballots “uncommitted,” even though Obama was their only choice.

Neither candidate has campaigned in Kentucky.

“Nonetheless, it has been an election season that has, in my observation, been of great interest for many young people on and off campus,” Hail said.

There are many government organizations on campus, including Student Government Association, Pi Sigma Alpha, college of Republicans, college of Democrats and other ways for students to become involved.

MARY ALFORD is a student with Morehead State’s Convergent Media.