Salukis rally at VP debate

By Gus Bode

ST. LOUIS – Jasmine Roby had no idea that a charter bus parked outside of the Student Center Thursday afternoon would take her within waving distance of Barack Obama’s running mate.

The bus carried Roby, a sophomore from Rockford studying cinematography, and 24 other members of the SIUC Power Vote movement to a debate between Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican counterpart, on the campus of Washington University.

Power Vote is a non-partisan coalition that encourages young voters to support the presidential candidate with the best alternative energy platform, said Ashley Cline, the group’s SIUC director. She said Power Vote setup between Lawson Hall and Life Science II Monday and Tuesday as a part of its national tour of this year’s presidential debates.


The group’s parent organization, the SIUC Student Environmental Center, lobbied for the green fee now a part of tuition.

Cline, a May SIUC graduate, said Power Vote’s members approached Washington University students to sell them the group’s message. Just before the debate began, the group marched from the free forum area, located in the middle of campus, to the corner of Skinker and Forsyth Blvds, where Biden and Palin’s motorcades turned onto campus as they arrived.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers kept demonstrators out of the intersection as Biden’s SUV proceeded towards the campus auditorium. As soon as he was out of sight, the displaced Saluki marched along the streets of St. Louis chanting, “Clean energy, green jobs.”

“A student is sending a message to the world, to the political community that says, ‘I vote, and if you want my vote you better pay attention to these issues,'” said Megan Pulliam, a senior from Chatham studying political science.

Like many of the Carbondale travelers, Marshall Petty, a sophomore from Carterville studying anthropology, said Thursday’s movement was the first political rally he had participated in. And after he waved his sign encouraging the use of wind turbines and solar panels at Biden, Petty said this would not be the last rally either.

Franziska Contreas, a pre-major freshman from Bovaria, Germany, said Thursday’s rally put her closer to the debate her friends still overseas would be following closely. She said the country’s struggling economy has made this year’s presidential election more of an issue to Europeans.

“Friends of mine sent me emails asking, ‘Hey, how’s it going? Who do you think is going to win?'” Contreas said.


Before attending its own rally, Power Vote members gathered around a makeshift stage setup in the free forum area for MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews’ live broadcast and interviews of the debate. Brianna Cayo-Cotter, a coordinator in the national Power Vote organization, gathered up as much of the group to attempt to make an appearance in the camera’s backdrop.

Cayo-Cotter said she has been surprised by the high levels of support for the Power Vote movement from SIUC.

“They’re doing an amazing job,” she said. “When we were on campus, they gathered 100 pledges within 24 hours.”

Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected].