A Step In The Democratic Direction

Ayanna Williams

Students were chanting as they ran from Whitnall Field, weaved throughout campus, went through town and returned to Whitnall Field. This was the scene on September 18, as 30 Colgate students ran the 5K Run Against Bush sponsored by the College Democrats.Sophomore Charley Burkly, was first inspired to bring the Run Against Bush to campus after she saw people wearing the Run Against Bush t-shirts. When Burkly introduced the idea of bringing a run to Colgate, the College Democrats embraced it.”[The] goal is to get people together ‘physically’ running against Bush,” Burkly said. We’re ‘exercising’ our democracy.” Tables were set up all last week in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) to sign people up to join the run. “The best thing was we had 30 people who actually participated, but we received so much positive feedback from [other] students,” Burkly said.September 18 was National Run Against Bush Day. On Saturday, there were walks, runs and bike races in over 100 cities to support the removal of George W. Bush from the White House in the November election. Participants of Run Against Bush ran over 100,000 miles and raised over $100,000 this weekend alone. The majority of the money raised will go towards the Democratic National Convention, supporting swing state democratic committees, promoting voter registration and “Get Out and Vote” organizations.”It was really cool for me to think that at that time, people all over the country were doing the same thing [I was doing],” President of College Democrats junior Elizabeth Pavle said. “It was a good feeling knowing that I was participating. There was a big meaning behind it.”Another participant, sophomore Jeff Fein, shared Pavle’s enthusiasm about the race. “It was really fun and awesome,” he said. “It was a great time chanting through campus and town. I felt I needed to do something to get involved in an election that’s important. Even a small thing … it’s something.” Burkly was thrilled to bring the Run Against Bush to Colgate.”It was great to see a national event come to a tiny place like Hamilton,” Burkly said. “If this can come to a small place like this, then we can really make a difference.”In addition to the enthusiasm displayed by the runners and students, a local politician came out to support the run. “At the end of the race one of the things that was a big surprise was Dr. Bob Johnson came and greeted us,” Burkly said. Bob Johnson is running for Congress in the 23 District, which includes Hamilton.Despite the immense amount of support and excitement for the event, Fein feels that there is not enough political support on campus. “I don’t think there’s that much political talk going on,” Fein said. “It would be great if more people were involved in politics.”Sophomore Jason Rand, who will become President of the College Democrats in the spring, agrees. “On Colgate’s campus, there’s a lot of apathy towards politics,” he said.Being in a small town is a factor in the lack of political support on campus. “Living in a small town isolates us,” Payle said. “We don’t really know what’s going on unless we pay attention and reach out.” Fein agrees. “[We] might be in a small town, but people from Colgate live all over the country,” Fein said. “People can take those views and spread them all over.”With less than 40 days until the presidential election, Pavle urges students to get involved in the election. “Talk to each other,” Pavle said. “Become a part of the discussion and make it your responsibility.”Many clubs on campus will be sponsoring events to promote political awareness in the coming months. “I’m really excited about this semester,” Pavle said. “We have a lot of things like debates, Brown Bag Lunches and lecture series with professors.” Rand reiterated the importance of political awareness on campus. “Ask questions if you’re unclear about something,” he said. “Get out there and register to vote. The most important way to get involved is to vote [for] what you believe in.”