As the chapter coordinator for Students for Barack Obama (SFBO), after reading Alice Hur’s op-ed “Life of the Open Mind” (11/04/08), which stated opposition to the “overzealousness” of Obama supporters on campus, I had to respond.
First of all, the U of C is not “Obama-land” by any means. Ron Paul chalkings coated campus last year in a way that made our efforts look like mere child’s play. Hillary signs weren’t uncommon on campus, and I’d doubt the College Republicans would like to hear that apparently because we all live in Hyde Park, we just can’t help ourselves but to support Obama. We are, in fact, not all sheep just blindly following him; we discuss the debates so vigorously here because we are a collection of “incredibly bright and well informed individuals” who have made an educated decision about whom to support in the presidential election. Open-mindedness is achieved by the constant debate and discussion, not by remaining undecided about whom to support after you’ve, well, decided.
Once a student has made that decision of whom to support, Ms. Hur is right that there is a problem among kids our age. No matter if you supported Barack Obama or John McCain, Ralph Nader or Ron Paul, the next step is to always get involved. This, by the way, does not mean wearing a T-shirt that supports your candidate. Yard signs, buttons, and bumper stickers don’t vote. However, the 200 residents of Indiana and other swing states whom SFBO registered to vote did. Some of the owners of the more than 6,000 doors we knocked on in Indiana did. The recipients of our 1,500 phone calls did.
I am overwhelmingly proud of what Students for Barack Obama has accomplished and do not believe in any way that these numbers represent “political extremism” or “obsession.”
I do apologize that some Obama supporters were rude to Ms. Hur, apparently dismissing her third-party candidate of choice. There’s no excuse for not discussing politics in an open-minded and fair way, but there’s also absolutely no reason why that has to mean not choosing a candidate and supporting him.
If somebody had supported Dennis Kucinich rather than Obama, I’d much rather have seen them actively campaigning on campus—actually making a difference and showing that our generation is not as apathetic as the pundits want us to believe. Instead of debating the merits of a candidate, however, this op-ed unfortunately chose to chastise supporters of another candidate for doing a good job of helping to get him elected.
Class of 2011