Bryan Beilke

Associated Students Inc. brought students together Tuesday in an effort to inform them about the upcoming presidential election and local and national politics as part of Rock the Vote 2008 in the University Union Plaza.

“Students need to get involved in politics because it’s our future that is involved with decisions that will be made,” said Dennis Esselsagoe, a public policy graduate student and secretary of legislative affairs for ASI.

Debbie Arnold, a candidate for the 5th District County Supervisor seat for San Luis Obispo County, spoke, along with a representative for Barack Obama.

There were also representatives from the Cal Poly College Republicans and members of the Cal Poly chapter of the Students for Ron Paul.

ASI had a tent set up where students had the opportunity to register to vote. Their goal was to register 1,000 students by primary election time. Before Tuesday’s event, ASI officials estimated they had already passed the halfway mark, having already registered more than 550 students.

“Make an informed vote. ASI doesn’t take sides and that is why we asked representatives from both sides to be here,” said Nicole Stromsness, civil engineering senior and University Union Advisory Board member.

Walter Heath, the representative for Obama, spoke about Obama’s policies and beliefs, why he is the right choice for students and how he can relate to them personally as a candidate.

“There’s a need for a generational change in this country. He’s got a lot of heart and I think young people can relate to that,” Heath said.

Arnold spoke on the importance of voting as well as her personal goals and beliefs.

Arnold worked for Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee’s office and was a legislative assistant for former county supervisor Mike Ryan for five years.

“I just wanted to introduce myself to students on campus and make myself available to hear their issues and let them know that their needs are important to me,” Arnold said.

She said it is important for students to take an active role politically and vote.

“Students need to vote because this is your future at stake,” Arnold said. “It’s your government and you have to live with the rules and policy that are made.”

Members of Ron Paul’s support group were present in the University Union, dispensing information about the candidate.

“I’d like to get his name recognized because I think his issues would be popular among Cal Poly students, but many people just don’t know his name,” said Stephen Murphy, mechanical engineering junior and creator of the Cal Poly chapter of Students for Ron Paul.

Murphy explained that Paul is a Republican candidate who has been against the Iraq war since the beginning.

Many students at Cal Poly relate to this view and share similar beliefs, he said.

“It’s important for students to be aware of the issues because it definitely affects them and right now it seems like there is too much apathy,” Murphy said.

Esselsagoe echoed that statement and said, “We need to take charge of our future and stop letting other people decide issues for us.”

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