Rock the Vote combines politics, party
Jen Rainey | Collegio Reporter
About 150 people spent Friday, April 27, listening to speakers and rocking out to local bands in support of voter registration. Rock the Vote, headed by Tina Parker, took place from noon to 9 p.m. It consisted of speakers and three bands: Clean Slate, Deadeye and Zero 2 Panic.
“I think we had an amazing turnout,” said Parker, senior in social work. “It’s really a lot better than expected and more people came out than I thought.”
Parker says she started planning the event in October, and she chose to organize and lead the event for a class project in her Advanced Social Work Practicum II class. Parker says she also chose to do this because of her interest in politics.
“The political process is something that inspires me,” Parker said. “People don’t understand the importance of voting, or how much power they have and how it affects their lives.”
Speeches were given by community members on topics like how to get involved in politics and political activism, how to create nonviolent social change and individual civil liberties. Kyle Barton and Andrew Benage, both members of the Youth for Ron Paul organization, spoke to the crowd. Holden Kraus spoke on behalf of women’s rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual advocacy while Mark Peterson, assistant professor in history, philosophy and social science, gave a speech entitled “Everybody HATES government.” Julie Menghini, former Kansas House member, also addressed the crowd.
Parker says a lot of people helped contribute to the event, including her sister.
“My sister is very politically active, so she was excited and helped with pushing this event,” Parker said. “Her people are Ron Paul people, and they’ve been here all day long.”
Timmi Meyers assisted with the event by organizing voter registration. For her, this was a month-long process. The process included setting up tables in front of Wal-Mart and in the Oval. Meyers says she and other students also visited residents at local nursing and assisted-living homes.
“I set a goal to get at least 300 people to register to vote,” said Meyers, senior in social work. “We registered 333 people. I want people to know their vote matters because if we don’t tell senators and representatives what we want, they won’t know.”
Meyers says she also educated people about the new voting laws in Kansas. The laws include showing a photo ID when voting and reregistering each time a voter moves, changes their name, or changes their political party. The final number of people who had been registered through this process was announced during Rock the Vote.
Other students helped Parker by performing a variety of tasks. Jackie Raio assisted by setting up tables, cooking and selling food.
“It’s what we do as social workers,” said Raio, junior in social work. “We help any way we can.”
Barbecue, chips and drinks were sold at the concession stand. The proceeds went to fund the social work department in future research and programs, such as Rock the Vote. The event brought residents of all ages, as well as students, together in support of voter registration and awareness.
“Our country is in a time of people needing to wake up and know what’s going on,” said Haylee Spencer, senior in nursing. “Get involved whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. It’s important to know what’s going on around you.”