Skidmore Democrats encourage voter registration for all parties

Posted by Miles Mattison

The Skidmore Democrats are certainly one of the more active clubs on campus, with big plans for this semester to bring various speakers to Skidmore, host film-screenings and hopefully even host a political debate on campus.

The 2010-2011 academic year marks the third year as president of the Skidmore Democrats for Amy Bergstraesser '11, and she is excited about their various contributions to campus life this semester.

For the past three-weeks, the Skidmore Democrats were in the Dining Hall daily registering hundreds of students to vote in the upcoming November elections. This year, they registered people of all party affiliations. As there is no active Republican group on campus this semester, the Skidmore Democrats are sending out a message of bi-partisanship to encourage political activism.

Bergstraesser commented on the past three-weeks registering voters in the Dining Hall, stating, "I had a really good time because we're not just registering Democrats, we're registering Republicans and independents, too. We just want people to become involved and vote."

Bergstraesser wants Skidmore students to realize that as a campus, Skidmore is a powerful electorate group which can and has made a difference in local elections.

During the Obama election year, Jeff Waite ran for City Court Judge and won with the Skidmore vote.

"Waite won by a couple hundred votes and we had 300 votes for him, so we actually have made a difference," Bergstraesser said.

Voting at Skidmore is also incredibly simple. "Students can vote right in Case Center, it's super-easy."

On Thursday Oct. 14, the Skidmore Democrats screened "Milk," co-sponsored with Pride Alliance as the first movie in their political movie series for the semester.

The next movie screening will take place on Oct. 21 in Gannett at 7 p.m. and it will be a special event because it includes this year's Key Note speaker, Kelly Nyks.

Nyks co-wrote, produced and directed "Split: A Divided America" in 2008. After the film, he will come out to talk about the importance of the youth vote in today's elections and then hold a question and answer session with the audience.

This event is co-sponsored by the Government Department, English Department and the Film Appreciation Troup.

The documentary is about bipartisanship and explains the reasons behind why the U.S. is becoming even more polarized with Democrats becoming more liberal and Republicans becoming more conservative.

"It is becoming really hard for people to identify with one of those two parties because they are becoming so extreme," Bergstraesser said.

The Skidmore Democrats hope the film will get students' emotions moving and inspire them to come out and vote this November.

Other speakers that the Skidmore Democrats are bringing to campus this semester included Family Court Judge Robert Rybak and Congressman Scott Murphy of Saratoga.

Rybak will speak about his positions and stances on local politics and Scott Murphy is coming to the Spa to give a talk, followed by a meet and greet with student voters to get an understanding of what their concerns are. The dates for these two events are to be announced.

Other potential speakers this semester include Senator Kirsten Gilibrand, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, as well as various state senators and local politicians.

The Skidmore Democrats are also trying to facilitate bringing B.K. Keramati and Jim Tedisco to Skidmore for an on-campus debate.

Tedisco is a New York Assemblyman, and Keramati is challenging his position in the upcoming election.

At meetings, the Skidmore Democrats plan and discuss their upcoming events and debate current events pertinent to American politics. Also, there is free food at the Skidmore Democrats' meetings because, as Amy knows, "Skidmore students love free food!"

The Skidmore Democrats meet every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Honors Forum Lounge on the third floor of Ladd Hall and they always welcome new members. The Skidmore Democrats are also on Facebook and they encourage students to join their group, entitled "Skidmore Democrats 2010-2011."

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