Presidential party, open invitation

By Yuliana Quinones

With the election just a few weeks away, organizations across the country are working to raise voter awareness. Columbia is following this trend by improving on its past efforts to get students involved in politics.

A number of Columbia organizations will join forces on election night to throw a large viewing celebration called the Presidential Party. Like campus events such as 24 Hour Night and Holipalooza, Columbia’s winter holiday party, the event will bring students together for one of this year’s most important nights.

The Presidential Party, which is being organized by the office of Student Engagement and will unfold at the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., will be the first event to bring together multiple Columbia organizations for the election, something the college wants to do more often, said Kari Sommers, assistant dean of

Student Life.

Aldo Guzman, director of Student Engagement and one of the event organizers, said he is thrilled about bringing the college community together in such a new,

exciting way.

“We are very excited and proud that we’ve got students, faculty and staff all coming together to have this big event for the students,”  Guzman said.  “It’s all about creating an experience.”

The night will include a satirical debate by Columbia’s award-winning Improv Club, games provided by the Renegades, voter education from One Tribe and a live “boxing match” between the two presidential candidates during the

voter count.

“To give election updates, we will have this theatrical, over-the-top fight,” Guzman said. “Every time we stop for an update, the bell will ring and announce the round like a real fight. So you know, as Obama is taking the lead, he takes a whack [at Romney]. And Romney takes the lead, he takes one, and so on.”

Other organizations will be hosting smaller election-related

activities around campus.

The Marketing Communication Department and the Public Relations Society of America will hold an Ad Autopsy event to analyze political ads and their effect on voters.

“We hold Ad Autopsy twice a semester because we want to educate the students and faculty about the evolution of political advertising and how it influences us,” said Cynthia Pike-Fuentes, a faculty member in the Marketing Communication Department who is involved with the event.

The Student Government Association has been a part of election-related campus events in the past, but it stepped up its efforts this year, providing voter registration forms from all

50 states.

“I can say, without a doubt, that this is the year SGA has gotten the most people registered to vote,” Sommers said

Past events included live election coverage from WCRX FM, Columbia’s student-run radio station, and viewing parties in residence halls. However, because many Columbia students are commuters, organizers felt a more inclusive effort

was needed.

“[The last presidential election] was very different because Obama was on our campus in Grant Park, so people were actually interested in going there,” Sommers said. “Since the event is now being held inside [McCormick Place], students want to join together and watch.”

Many organizations used to hold events on the same night, which made it hard for students to attend all of them. They will now all be in one room, so it won’t be a problem, Guzman said.

Eddie Fisher a freshman film & video major, agreed that a larger effort was necessary and said he plans to attend the event.

“I don’t see anyone talking about the important issues,” Fisher said. “I feel like Columbia can be instrumental in changing that.”

The Presidential Party is Nov. 6 at the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., from 7 – 11 p.m. Ad Autopsy will be held at Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., on Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

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