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MTV "ROCKS THE VOTE" AT BRANDYWINE

9/25/2008 —

In a world of iPhones, laptops, and 24-hour news, the country’s youth has remained, in previous years, underrepresented during election time. But with the country’s fate inevitably falling in their hands in the very near future, what will it take to get college-aged kids to the polls? MTV has found a way and Penn State Brandywine was prepped to help.

Pulling from the idea of “Road Rules,” a reality show following six strangers as they travel the country completing missions for an eventual prize, Rock the Vote has paved its own road to the White House using the power of knowledge to connect with the country’s youth. The DC-based group travels to college campuses across the country using music, popular culture, and new technologies to educate, engage, and incite young people to register and vote in every election.

On Monday, September 22, Rachel Robinson, cast member of “Road Rules: Campus Crawl” and the “Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Islands,” did her best to educate more than 60 Penn State Brandywine students during a stop on the Rock the Vote tour. Using a Power Point presentation, she outlined the differences between the Republican, Democratic, and Green parties and explained important issues. There was a table outside the Lion’s Den where students could register to vote.

A 25-year-old Miami native, Robinson encouraged the students to engage in a friendly debate about the issues they feel are important on a personal level and to the country as a whole. They discussed health care, immigration, taxes, abortion, gay rights, gun control, and the war in Iraq, inciting strong reactions and starting debates between students. Their knowledge and strong viewpoints on each of the issues were enough to bring hope to those in Washington who fear the country’s youth are not interested in its future.

Junior Ashley DiNardo, HDFS, said she has already chosen the candidate she will vote for but that Rock the Vote helped reinforce her choice. “I found the event very informational and important because a lot of college students don’t watch the news or read the newspapers so we don’t always understand where each party stands.”

A second-time voter—she was first eligible to vote in 2004—, DiNardo said she was aware of where each candidate stood on the situation in Iraq, but was surprised by their positions on gay rights and abortion. During the discussion, Robinson pointed out that McCain is pro-life and opposes gay marriage and civil unions and that while Obama supports gay rights and civil unions, he does not support gay marriage. “They are both very sensitive issues and I was surprised by how McCain is so openly against [abortion and gay rights]. I was also shocked that Obama, a strong proponent of change, is against gay marriage.”

Rock the Vote, founded in 1990, uses famous faces—cast members from MTV typically recognized by the younger generation—to offer a non-partisan multi-media presentation and open discussion highlighting the importance of voting,” according to GP Entertainment. According to its Web site, Rock the Vote’s mission is “to engage and build the political power of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country. And we give young people the tools to identify, learn about, and take action on the issues that affect their lives, and leverage their power in the political process.”

In support of the organization’s efforts, the Penn State Brandywine Bookstore is providing students the opportunity to support youth voting by selling graphic t-shirts bearing the Rock the Vote logo for $15. Two dollars of every sale will go directly to Rock the Vote to support their programs mobilizing and engaging young people to register to vote and hit the polls each election.

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