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Students urged to donate time

For Ohio college students, the 2008 presidential election is everywhere they go.

It dominates conversations both in political science classrooms and in Starbucks coffee shops. It pops up on social networking Web sites like Facebook in the form of quizzes and polls. It even appears in mass e-mails and nagging phone calls begging the unassuming student to vote in the upcoming primary.

And although the constant propaganda may seem innocent, most candidates are only looking for one thing: donations.

With candidates like Ron Paul and Barack Obama focusing on younger voters to support them in the upcoming Ohio primary, college students have become a primary target for political campaign managers looking for free money.

‘I wouldn’t mind funding a campaign if they just asked once or twice,’ senior Jennifer Dietsch said. ‘But repeated e-mails and phone calls just take it too far. I’ve already told them once I don’t have any money, so just let me be.’

However, not all students feel donating money to a candidate is too much of a hassle. In fact, this year’s campaign has seen more money donated by people identifying themselves as students on donation forms than any other.

According to a poll conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics, during the first six months of the campaign, students gave nearly $1,967,111 compared to $538,936 in 2004. Based on federal law, the total amount that any one person can give is $2,300.

‘I think it’s great that students are actually getting out there and supporting a cause,’ senior Amanda Monyak said. ‘In a capitalist society, in order to change how things are being done sometimes you have to be willing to dish out.’

Monyak donated $10 to Obama’s campaign through his Web site. Her donation was then matched by someone in Maryland, she said.

‘It’s just cool to see that the little donations do make a difference,’ Monyak said.

But for some students, even little donations cannot be spared.

Junior Stephanie McCague, an off-campus student who pays for most of her living expenses, said she uses all her money just trying to pay the bills and has nothing extra to donate towards political candidates.

‘It’s hard enough trying to pay for the essentials in life,’ she said. ‘It’s just annoying to think that they would assume we have the extra cash to just throw out like that.’

But for some students, donating money is not the only way to support and become involved with a campaign.

Mark Ingles, the president of the College Democrats, said time and energy can be more beneficial than money when it comes to college students.

‘Most students can’t afford to give to a lot of things, let alone a political campaign,’ he said. ‘Giving themselves in the form of involvement can be something that works as an alternative, though.’

Joining one of the many groups on campus supporting the political candidates could be a way to benefit a certain campaign, Ingles said. Through such organizations, students are given the chance to make phone calls to primary states reminding people to vote.

Regardless of how students choose to help their chosen candidate, their support is appreciated by those working on the campaign.

‘Because we have engaged youths in Barack’s campaign, we have had positive results in their willingness to help us out,’ Ben LaBolt, the Obama for America spokesman, said. ‘If you engage young people in the campaign, they will come together to bring change.’

LaBolt said that much of Obama’s success in the past few months is due to the dedication from young voters.

‘Even if they are not contributing financially to the campaign,’ he said, ‘their continued support and involvement with Barack’s message helps more than they know.’

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