Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tulane Students Rise To the Occasion

As a native New Orleanean and a professor at Tulane University who teaches on civic engagement and politics, as well as Latin American Studies, I've been observing Tulane student attitudes towards civic life for the past 7 years. So I think I have a pretty good read on where students are with regard to voting attitudes and behavior. In general, Tulane students, who are generally affluent, have been mostly apathetic (except for my students, of course!); but this year is markedly different. Example: I am also a DJ for the University Radio station (WTUL 91.5 FM) and I do a classical music show from 6:00am-8:00am on Tuesday mornings. When I showed up on campus for my radio show this morning at about 5:30am, I noticed a line of students already forming outside of the University Center, which is the campus student union, where three voting machines were set up and ready to open at 6am. By the time I left my radio show at a little after 8:00am to head to my office for work, the line was still long. I went home to vote [see previous posting] and returned to my office at the University shortly thereafter. At 9:30am, I had a scheduled meeting with a student who told me that he had just come from voting and had to wait in line for about an hour. I was just incredulous. So, I went over the University Center again right after our meeting was over (about 10:00am), this time with my camera in hand, and found the line still stretching down McAlister Drive. (Photo below) It was about 50 people deep, nearly all students, and all in great spirits. I'm attaching a photo of this line. Inside the building, there was another line of about 20 voters, one of whom included one of my students from my 11:00am class! If I had to guess, about 95% Obama supporters. I would have asked the precinct volunteers what was the current tally on the total number of voters since the polls opened at 6:00am, but they looked much too harried to be bothered, so I left well-enough alone. I'm telling you, something unprecedented is happening. I can't wait for the Louisiana shocker that sends the Pelican State's 9 electoral votes to Barack Obama!

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