With Election Day now in the rear-view mirror, students no longer have the 21-month-long campaign to captivate their attention. And while some students engaged in the campaign finally have time to catch their breath, others feel their work is just getting started.
“In the last 48 hours, I’ve gotten about four hours of sleep,” said LSA junior Sam Marvin, who coordinated President-Elect Barack Obama’s campaign for the University’s chapter of College Democrats. “I took a short nap last night at about 5 a.m. on a deflated air mattress in the Obama offices, and I haven’t eaten food that didn’t come in Styrofoam in days.”
Marvin is just one of many students who spent much of the last few weeks devoting his time to the election. Though he invested more than most in the presidential election, even those who didn’t volunteer couldn’t avoid the fervor of the 2008 election in the days and weeks surrounding Election Day. Signs, stickers and rhetoric dominated campus.
LSA sophomore Troy Huckendubler said many of his professors talked about the election, some quite transparently.
“My professors tried to remain nonpartisan, but a lot of them showed that they were excited about what was coming,” Huckendubler said. “One of them even said something to the extent of, ‘Hooray for Barack Obama.’ ”
Students involved in political groups said that while they might have achieved success, there’s still more progress to be made.
Rackham student Kate Stenvig was one of thousands of students that swarmed campus after news networks projected Obama’s victory on Tuesday.
“It was the happiest day of my life,” Stenvig said of Election Day.
Stenvig, an organizer for By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), a pro-affirmative action group, said Obama’s rise to the presidency will have positive implications for the group.
“Obama’s election gives the movement we’re building a huge opportunity,” she said.
Andrea James, president of the University’s chapter of the NAACP, a nonpartisan group, said group members were ecstatic that Obama became the nation’s first black president. Still, she said many in the organization were concerned with the nation’s current race relations. She cited the passage of a ballot initiative banning anti-affirmative action ballot in Nebraska on Tuesday.
Despite the length of the campaign season — at nearly two years, it was easily the longest in American history — LSA junior Brittany Davis said the election outcome has led her to seek ways to get involved politically.
“I’m going to try and get more involved next semester. I really want to join College Dems,” Davis said.
Brady Smith, chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said his group was a bit deflated about the outcome but respected the significance that accompanies Obama’s victory.
“We really do appreciate the historical context of the moment,” Smith said. “It was a tough blow for all of us. But you take a lot of tough blows in this campaign.”
Smith said Obama’s win has started an important dialogue for America.
“It takes two people to have a conversation. We’re going to continue to be the other side of the conversation,” he said.