The USP Student Government Association’s (SGA) political forum and voter registration drive on Saturday, March 15, was a tremendous success. As the pinnacle of the event, actor Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, House, The Namesake) spoke about his political activism and support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Prior to his arrival at the nearly filled-to-capacity McNeil STC AstraZeneca Auditorium, USP students presented the political platforms of several presidential candidates and assisted with voter registration forms.
Beginning at 6 p.m., USP students spoke about the political platforms of presidential candidates Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain with a focus on four main areas—healthcare, education reform, the economy, and the environment. Realizing the unusually weighty role Pennsylvania voters will play in this presidential race, USP pre-med student Preyanka Makadia organized the event in order to draw attention to the March 24 voter registration deadline for participation in Pa.’s primary election on April 22. Makadia also wanted to provide information on the candidates’ platforms so that attendees would be able to make informed decisions come Election Day.
“This is probably one of the best organized events we’ve had since being on the campaign,” said Penn as he began his eloquent speech in support of Senator Obama. Citing the hard times faced by two friends struggling to pay for the costs of college, Penn said he believes Senator Obama is a candidate who can make a difference for today’s younger generations. He continued speaking about the Senator’s plans to resolve the difficult issues facing the nation, all the while sprinkling in a liberal dose of humor. He also reiterated the significance of the upcoming Pa. Primary election and the importance of voting, regardless of political preference.
As a N.J. native and guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn’s voice resonated closely with USP's students. When he was finished, he opened up the floor for questions, and the audience didn't hesitate to ask away. In an interview with event organizer Makadia after the forum, Penn thanked the University for inviting him to speak and congratulated the students on their impressive turnout.
According to Makadia, the SGA helped register over 200 new voters and she couldn’t have been any more pleased with how well the evening went. “I set out to accomplish two things in planning the event: register new voters and raise awareness of the candidates. I think we surpassed both of those goals,” she said. The SGA can not be commended enough for orchestrating such an outstanding event and further proving its devotion to student service. A reception following the presentations complimented the evening’s events, leaving the students full with both food and forethought for the upcoming vote.