As the sun set before the first presidential debate, Loyola Marymount’s Lawton Plaza filled up with students, faculty and staff members waiting to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off on national TV.
On that warm night, the Associated Students of Loyola Marymount University (ASLMU) set up an inflatable screen, handed out dinner and picnic blankets, and invited professors to ask questions of observers.
It was the first of three successful ASLMU debate watch parties planned as part of Let Your Vote ROAR – Register, Observe, Act, Revolutionize – an ASLMU campaign designed to get students energized about Election Day on Nov. 8.
“The U.S. presidential elections are steadily approaching and ASLMU wants to make sure our campus community is immensely informed,” said Fassa Sar, the organization’s chair of university affairs and a junior political science major. “In addition, we want to offer students the resources and tools to be politically engaged citizens.”
The debate watch parties are just some of the highlights of the ROAR campaign that kicked off at the start of the semester and will wrap up with a Nov. 7 rally featuring a DJ, food trucks, activities and 13 booths with information about ballot propositions.
ASLMU has worked with College Democrats and College Republicans since Sept. 20 to increase the number of registered voters on campus. Booths were set up from noon to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and eligible students not yet registered – including roughly 60 from California and 20 from other states with online registration – were able to do so on the spot, Sar said.
In addition, ASLMU also hosted “Prop 54: A Discussion on Bilingual Education,” with Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlán (MEChA), an LMU organization of politically conscious students dedicated to social justice. And the group helped fund the College Democrats’ and College Republicans’ “Great Debate,” as well as Sigma Phi Epsilon’s “Dunk to Vote.”
ASLMU President Lash Nolen, a senior health and human sciences major, said she feels the events – along with the Let Your Vote ROAR banners and yard signs posted around campus – have helped raise student awareness about the election and the issues at stake. ASLMU sought advice from the university’s Marketing and Communications team to design banners that stand out and reflect various aspects of the campaign.
“Students are actually having the conversation, because they’re constantly reminded (of the election),” said Lash, who like many LMU students will cast her first vote for president this month.
“I think that this campaign is something that people are going to remember.”