Germano is making a difference

By on October 16, 2003

Crushed between sweaty students reeking of alcohol all moving their asses to “Get Low” by Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz at the party of the night, Michael Germano takes getting to know your voting constituency to a different level.

Not in a million years could I see any of the current College Park city councilmen coming within a hundred yards of a student’s weekend party unless of course it was to report it to the police and break it up. In fact, it’s a safe bet to say 95 percent of the student body couldn’t even name a member of the city council or the College Park mayor, let alone recognize a city councilmen if they passed them on the street.

Germano is a student at Quinnipiac University and is running for the Hamden, Conn. Town Council. He has launched a campaign to bring a student voice to a college town, which might be located in nowhere Connecticut, but the city dynamics are the same as College Park’s. The university is the leading source of income for the town where the students far outnumber the residents. However, like those in College Park, the students are ignored by Hamden’s representatives because they expect low voter turnout from students and therefore have no reason to answer to them.

The campaign has sparked a whirlwind of interest on Quinnipiac’s campus with countless dorm windows adorned with “Vote Mike Germano” posters and students walking around with “Germano for Town Council” T-shirts.

At first while walking the campus, I didn’t even realize Germano was a student at Quinnipiac. Not until my sister, a freshman at Quinnipiac, pointed Germano out and said, “Hey, there’s that kid whose name is on all the posters you were asking about earlier.”

Even at a party which – to my shock – was BYOB and still jumping (crazy private schools kids), Germano was campaigning to a group of women who looked legitimately interested, informing them where and when to register to vote.

Therein lies the key to a student actually winning a seat on the city council in Hamden or College Park: Voter registration. If a student can get enough support on the campus and make other students realize their right to vote in the city elections, it would be a landslide for the students every time.

Two years ago, Mike Mann and Daniel Dorfman, both university students at the time, ran for the District 3 city council seat and realized the importance of getting out the student vote. “It’s a hard battle, but it’s totally winnable,” Mann said. “You just have to register the Greeks and it’s over.”

The city councilmen realized just how dangerous a student could be. After Mann and Dorfman started to create a buzz on the campus, the city representatives, who claim to support the students, attacked the very students who were trying to create a legitimate line between the city and the university. The supposed “adults” running for seats made the election into an “us versus them” election. Mayor Steve Brayman went as far as to use scare tactics to prevent a student surge to the polls by telling students they would lose scholarships if they registered to vote in College Park.

If you have gotten down to the bottom of this column, you might be thinking to yourself, “I could actually make a difference instead of just sitting on my butt and complaining.” The problem is, the date for registering for the election passed last week. Only one council seat is contested this year and not one student registered. The student body missed another prime chance to have a real voice in the city on pressing issues like rent control or a city police force. The student liaison who sits through the lengthy city meetings is in the end only a figurehead considering he has no say to actual change without a vote.

So file this column away and maybe in a year or so start building a campaign for the next city elections. If anything, Germano, Mann and Dorfman all forced the “adults” running their college town to pay attention to students. What a revolutionary idea – representing your constituency.


About Michael Hoffman