With 20 days left until Election Day, student involvement has taken center stage for campus members and celebrities alike.
Filmmaker, writer and actress Lena Dunham urged students on Monday to vote, during a live teleconference with college journalists.
Dunham, most notably known for creating and starring in HBO’s series “Girls,” had a great deal to say about college students voting and her own personal support for President Barack Obama.
“If I could write a president that I wanted to have, Barack Obama would be that president,” she said.
This election is the first time Dunham is so open about who she’s voting for.
Dunham graduated from Ohio’s Oberlin College “one whole term ago” in 2008 where she studied creative writing.
She said that it is important for students to learn about the issues in this upcoming election. The election and voting process “is as much about where we are going, as well as where [we’ve] been,” she said.
Chairman of the Penn State College Republicans Jordan Harris agreed that student involvement is incredibly important, now more than ever.
Socially, the media and celebrities play a large role in the election.
Social media is the way people communicate, Harris (senior-history) said.
“It’s the most influential method of spreading news,” Harris said.
Students no longer have to watch debates to know what happens, given the amount of social media prevalent during events, Harris said.
“Today, social media is a major outlet of communication for younger people,” President of the Penn State College Democrats Drew McGehrin said.
McGehrin (senior-history and religious studies) said that Obama set the bar for listening to social media outlets.
“College students are involved in social media outlets 24/7,” McGehrin said, thus explaining its importance.
Harris said he doesn’t know if most Americans make decisions based on celebrity endorsements, though.
Harris mentioned Stacey Dash, the black female actress, well known for her role in “Clueless,” who tweeted her support for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Her tweet, which said, “Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future” received a firestorm of backlash and racist tweets.
Harris said that it was a telling incident within the role of celebrity endorsements and called it a “pathetic display.”
In the past, Democratic celebrities are outspoken and other celebrities are often expected to “fall in line,” Harris said and when they decide to voice their own opinions such backlash occurs.
On the other hand, McGehrin said that celebrity endorsements are “good in the sense that they have social standing.” Often such endorsements lead to research and involvement within the public, he said.
Some argue that celebrities sway the voters in favor of their endorsement, but McGehrin said that he “tend[s] to think that the general public is more intelligent and able to make their own decision.”
During the conference Monday, Dunham was not afraid to express her views.
Dunham discussed Obama’s precedents, like equal pay for women and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,”all while maintaining her usual sarcasm and charisma.
“I want to dance my ass off at my sister’s wedding — she’s gay,” Dunham said on the topic of marriage equality.
Citing the high temperatures in Los Angeles, Ca., Dunham also applauded Obama for his ideas on making the economy stronger and the environment safer.
“Our president fights for this,” she said.
Obama for America’s Deputy Communications Director Rachel Racusen said that she is for equality for all and that “this election is going to be very close.”
“You can’t get complacent,” she said.
Just because the election is so close, doesn’t mean that a difference can’t be made, Harris said.
“November seventh is the only day that it’s too late,” he said.
Harris advised students to get involved and cited the call center and “door-to-door” knocking as a means to do so.
Students should vote early if their states offer it, Racusen said.
On the subject of why she got involved, Dunham said that she used to live in a world where she felt her rights were secure.
When Dunham realized some rights were in fact threatened, it “sobered” her up, she said.
“I make work about the world I want to live in,” the “Girls” star said, and “politics fit beautifully into that.”
Dunham said that she never imagined she’d be able to speak about the things that mattered to her, prior to her fame.
Now that she can, she said that it is the “artist’s responsibility to step outside and make the place they want to live in, real.”
Dunham urged students to “go dorm-to-dorm… [and] beg people to vote.”
“We only have one chance, got to get it right,” she said.
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