New 'Mizzou for Obama' MU organization in the works

Although it's not an official MU student organization, the University of Missouri Columbia Students for Barack Obama Official Chapter has 256 members, according to the group pages.

With the presidential elections just a year away, students have begun to voice their support for favored candidates.

The organization, nicknamed Mizzou for Obama, is an official chapter of the Students for Barack Obama, a national grassroots organization that supports Obama's presidential candidacy in the 2008 election. The organization, which began on Facebook, has garnered a large following with numerous chapters developing nationwide, all with the common goal of getting students to support and vote for Obama.

"Our most important goal is to turn out 5,600 pledges on Feb. 5, the date of the primaries," Mizzou for Obama President Michele Boeche said. "We'll probably be registering more than that, but we would like to get 20 percent of the undergraduate population of campus to pledge."

Boeche said the group would do everything it can to get the word out. It plans to attend all freshmen events, use Speaker's Circle, set up tables at various fairs and do anything that will help register voters for Obama.

If the organization would like to set up tables at any MU events, it will need to register with the Organization Resource Group first.

"Only registered organizations can set up tables at the activities mart," ORG Vice Chairwoman of Administration Jessica Ekhoff said.

Glenn Rehn, a potential officer and active member, said there might not be enough time to register with ORG.

"It's a timely process, but there are organizations that are sympathetic to our cause, and we'll try to use any resources like that to help spread the word through the university," he said.

Obama's Web site describes his campaign as stressing issues that resonate with young Americans. His stance to curb "catastrophic man-made climate change," build a "clean energy future" and his proposal to "make college more affordable" for young Americans are just a few policies that bode well with young MU voters.

"Obama has been my senator for a long time," said Boeche, stressing his policies on ethics, education and the environment as key strengths.

Obama has had a profound effect on some members.

"Barack Obama's campaign is a rare opportunity for students to make a fundamental change in our government," Rehn said.

Rehn has been working with the group and helping to organize fundraisers and awareness among the student body for nearly a year.

"Our goal is to have at least 20 percent of the campus registered to vote in 2008," Rehn said. "We're trying to raise awareness through fundraisers."

Last year, the group sold T-shirts for about $15-20 and gave all the proceeds to the Obama campaign. Rehn said the group hoped to have another fundraiser this year, either in the form of a party or some kind of small charge gathering.

Interest in Mizzou for Obama has been growing since its conception in December 2006.

"I could see joining Mizzou for Obama," freshman Dan Trivinos said. "He gives the younger generation a sense of hope that his lack of political experience in years could imply a lack of political corruption."

Although Mizzou for Obama continues to grow, Rehn said that without campus support, the group cannot accomplish what it intends to do.

"We want to register young voters interested in Barack Obama," he said. "Hopefully when this is all over, they'll remain interested and join with the College Democrats. We've also requested a visit from Obama, but we need a strong base of supporters on campus."

Students who are interested in joining the group can become members of the Facebook group.

Mizzou for Obama will hold elections for officers on Sept. 5.

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