Students from St. Thomas, Augsburg, Bethel, Hamline, and the University of Minnesota and other schools who wore buttons, carried signs, and waited in line for almost an hour on October 28 at St. Thomas University. They were all waiting to see and hear Senator Norm Coleman and Governor Tim Pawlenty, in an event sponsored by the Minnesota College Republicans.
One of the waiting students was Janelle Murlowski, a senior at St. Thomas majoring in marketing management. Murlowski, a College Republican, is very interested in politics and her dream job is to be a commentator for Fox News. Murlowski also went to a Franken event that took place at St. Thomas, but said she felt outnumbered there. She is not a complete supporter of Norm Coleman because he doesn’t want to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), but she is supporting him.
Also waiting to enter McNeely Hall was Matt Barber, an economics major and philosophy minor at St. Thomas.
“Everyone says [the economy’s] so bad,” Barber says, “but I haven’t felt the effects of it.” He feels there has been too much focus on the economy in this election. He also says that, as a student with loans, he is interested in a candidate who will push for lower interest rates.
Barber has been turned off by the negative ads in the campaign, and wishes the candidates would focus on more substance. As a philosophy minor, Barber says he is mostly concerned with philosophical and moral issues , such as where life begins.
College Republican Jason Wilkes is a fiscal conservative. He believes in civil rights, and that gays should be allowed the same rights as anyone else, though he doesn’t believe in gay marriage. Wilkes is happy with Coleman’s voting record, particularly his pro-ethanol policies.
The St. Thomas chapter of the Minnesota College Republicans has approximately 1,500 members , and there are 8,000 members statewide, according to Bethany Borobiala, the chair of the Minnesota College Republicans. Borobiala is a senior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in political science. She has been helping oversee all the College Republican chapters, getting them involved with the campaign.
Borobiala says she doesn’t define herself by her party. “I think,” she says, “that the two-party system turns off people our age.”
When Pawlenty and Coleman arrived (about twenty five minutes after the start of the event), they each gave a short speech, followed by questions. The two candidates each had a common bond with the students. While Pawlenty had been a College Republican himself, Coleman’s son graduated from St. Thomas just last year. Each of the candidates re-iterated that the students in the room were the future of the party.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.