Election Night Tailgate Party on Tap
USF student organizations are putting the finishing touches on preparations for Tuesday night’s Watch Party at the Marshall Student Center.
By Adam Freeman
TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 5, 2012) – As President Obama and his challenger, Republican Mitt Romney, blitzed the country Monday with last minute campaign stops, organizers of Tuesday night’s “Tailgate Watch Party” at the University of South Florida finalized preparations for the campus event.
“Students can come, have fun, and enjoy a special moment in history,” said Shanika White, president of the Kappa Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. “I think students are excited for the event and I think the turnout will be excellent.”
The watch party will also play host to several media outlets, both local and global, which will be broadcasting live as election night returns stream in from around the country. USF’s Marshall Student Center is also a voting precinct, and it’s expected to be a busy one Tuesday.
USF Student Government and other student organizations focused efforts this fall on trying to get the vote out among the USF community. Nearly 1,900 people are registered to vote at the Marshall Student Center polling precinct. That’s up from less than 1,200 people who were registered in 2008.
“I think this year we’ve really prioritized registering to vote,” said Gabriela Irizarry, historian of the Beta Eta Chapter of Omega Phi Beta. “USF students are now more politically inclined, which was our goal.”
USF Student Government President Brian Goff is predicting a solid turnout Tuesday night for the watch party event, which in addition to the media will feature Rocky, the Sun Dolls and the USF Cheerleaders. Refreshments will be served.
Florida, as one of the swing states, is being closely watched. BBC Radio, Sky News and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. will be filing live reports throughout the night from the tailgate party, along with CBS, ABC and other outlets.
“There is tons of energy around this,” Goff said. “We’ve passed out fliers, buttons, as well as blasted out the information on Facebook and Twitter to generate interest. The interest in this event reflects what we’ve been seeing in voter registration numbers and participation on campus.”
The election night watch party begins at 5 p.m. and will continue until 1 a.m. Television coverage and election results will be projected onto the west wall of the USF Bookstore. The event is sponsored by Student Government, the NAACP, Omega Phi Beta and Delta Sigma Theta.
The BBC 5Live broadcast will feature interviews with USF faculty experts discussing top issues in the campaign and with students representing the much-coveted youth vote in the 2012 election. The network is also hosting a panel discussion with students, local political leaders and experts from approximately 6 to 7 p.m.; WUSF will simultaneously broadcast the discussion.
Attendees should bring stadium chairs, footballs and corn toss games to complete the tailgate party theme. Parking fees and restrictions will be waived in the three lots adjacent to the Marshall Student Center (behind the USF theaters) and all levels of the Crescent Hill garage beginning at 5 p.m.
“A lot of students on campus are excited about the election and the watch party. I think it will be very memorable just to say we were a part of it,” said Clinton Coutain, president of the USF Chapter of NAACP.