Students for Obama show support

By Gus Bode

It’s been said that the 2008 presidential election could make history and SIUC students plan to take part.

Eight Democrat and Republican candidates are on the ballot for the Feb. 5 presidential primary election. One candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has received support from universities across the country, including SIUC.

Since classes have just started, most on-campus organizations have not been able to hold their first meetings. However, students who strongly support Obama have come together in order to continue the effort and make him the next president.


Undergraduates and graduates who are a part of Students for Barack Obama held their first meeting Wednesday in the Student Center Roman Room. Jim Petre, a graduate student from Carol Stream studying speech communication, conducted the meeting.

Petre has been a supporter since late 2003 when Obama ran in the Illinois Senate primaries. Although Petre currently resides in Carbondale, he has tried to be involved in the campaign as much as possible. He writes letters to campaign offices around the country to show support and shares his ideas with local newspapers.

Petre said Obama has had such a huge impact that he has received support from students who are Republicans and Independents.

“I really do think Obama has a chance to win because he has that talent of bringing people together,” Petre said.

Nathan Brendal, a senior from Fairfield studying advertising, attended the meeting. Brendal said this election appeals to students because they can relate to the candidates’ ideas for change. He said he thinks the way the candidates have encouraged students to take part in this election is different from previous years.

Brendal said he supports Obama because the senator was the only leading Democratic candidate who opposed the war and has continued to stand by his beliefs. He added that of all the candidates, he thinks Obama is the only one who has not been corrupted by corporate greed.

“I read his book, and it pretty much inspired me that all people aren’t necessarily brainwashed by Washington politics,” Brendal said.


Randy Burnside, an assistant professor in the political science department, is not affiliated with the organization, but has talked with students about the election.

Burnside said the reason Obama has so much support from students is because he took the initiative to speak to young voters during early campaigning.

“College student participation in the election leads to low risk and high rewards,” Burnside said.

Burnside said students in his classes believe this generation is the future of the country and said they will choose the candidate that can promise.

In the next couple of weeks, Students for Barack Obama will campaign locally and in neighboring states. The goal is to encourage more college students to get out and vote as well as persuade those who are still undecided. The next meeting will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Longbranch Coffeehouse.

Jenn Lofton can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 270 or [email protected].