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Inside Politics

NYU students get ready for GOP invasion

Some can't wait for convention; some plan to protest

By Kate Meyer
Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Campus Vibe is a weekly feature that provides student perspectives on the 2004 election from selected colleges across the United States. This week's contributor is Kate Meyer, the news editor at the Washington Square News, the student newspaper at New York University. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of CNN, its affiliates or New York University.

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New York-area students protest at a March 20 rally against the war in Iraq.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- As Republicans, Democrats and anti-Bush activists gear up for New York City's first Republican National Convention, New York University students are getting into the mix.

"As Republicans in the city of New York, your voice is somewhat more muted than others," Michael Allegretti, the host committee's volunteer services director, told NYU College Republicans while trying to recruit volunteers for the August 29 to September 2 event.

"I promise you -- I will bet my political future on it -- the RNC will never have [another] national convention here in any of our lifetimes. This is a once in a lifetime thing."

Jamie Lee, a General Studies Program freshman who interns for the host committee, said the experience should be unforgettable.

"I'm a Republican, and proud to help our president," Lee said. "I know President Bush is the best candidate for the presidency, and I want what is best for our country. By interning, this is my way of contributing."

The host committee will need about 8,000 volunteers to run the convention, and right now they have already recruited a few thousand, spokesman Paul Elliot said.

"I've been a New Yorker my whole life and a Republican since I knew anything about politics, so it seemed a perfect fit that they were coming to my town," said Michael Tracey, a College of Arts and Science senior who interns at the host committee three times a week.

Student protest

But not all NYU students are as pleased as Tracey is that the convention will be held so close to home.

College of Arts and Science senior Brian Berkey, who said he plans to attend demonstrations at the late-August convention, said he feels more comfortable attacking Bush than promoting presumptive Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

"Bush is trying to turn this country into some kind of military theocracy," said Berkey, who is president of the NYU Atheists club. "I think the most effective thing I can do is just really go after the Republicans, because I can't say an incredible amount of good things about Kerry."

Tracy Sabbah, vice president of the National Organization for Women at NYU, said the convention's proximity to the September 11 terrorist attacks -- both in location and in timing -- is a political ploy.

"It offends me as a New Yorker," said the NYU sophomore who is originally from Long Island. "I just think that the president is using many tactics in his campaign that I don't agree with as an activist," she added.

Gavin Kalan, a former NYU student now studying at the University of Helsinki, Finland, said, "I think it is not just our right, but also highly appropriate to protest at this convention."

But Elliot refuted the idea that the convention would manipulate New Yorkers.

"It's nearly impossible to exploit New Yorkers," Elliot said. "We are some of the savviest and most informed people there are."

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