Student interest in the upcoming elections ranges from indifference to strong support for higher education.
As Kansas University student senators sponsor a letter-writing campaign to the state's gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Mike Hayden and State Treasurer Joan Finney, other students failed to register to vote.
But Greg Hughes, the KU campus director of Associated Students of Kansas, said he believes more students are involved in this year's elections than in years past.
ASK sponsored a voter registration drive on campus, and Hughes said the group registered about 3,500 students.
"I think voter registration went well on this campus," he said. "With the students we registered and with the 5,000 to 7,000 students we estimate already registered, there are probably about 10,000 students registered to vote."
Although Hughes said he believed political involvement is increasing among the student body, he said a lot of students just don't excited about non-presidential elections.
KAREN GOECKEL, a KU junior who is registered in Illinois but who lives in Georgia when she's not on campus, said she hasn't registered in Kansas.
"I don't feel like I have much at stake because I'm not going to be here (in Kansas)," Goeckel said.
Although she won't vote in the elections, Goeckel said was interested in the gubernatorial candidate's views about abortion and the state's economy.
Andrea Herstowki, a Lawrence senior, also is not registered. She said she hasn't kept up with the issues.
"I mostly know about the road issue, the Save the Wetlands thing because I do the advertising for it," said Herstowki, a journalism student.
Jon Becker, an Ottawa freshman, said he plans to participate in the election process but won't cast a vote for governor.
"I don't want to choose Hayden or Finney," Becker said. "But I will vote for the Senate."
HE SAID THE abortion issue and other social issues intrigued him, but he said he was turned off by the gubernatorial race when "Finney said she was pro-life and Hayden changed to pro-choice." Becker, 18, registered this fall.
Gretchen Goodman, an Overland Park junior, hasn't gotten around to registering but said the abortion issue interested her. Goodman also said she's kept up with higher education and the Margin of Excellence.
"I think the Midwest in general has a good commitment to education," Goodman said. "It could always be better, but I think Kansas is better than some states."
Mike Schreiner, student body president, said education is his top priority.
"I would like to see the entire Board of Regents budget passed, which is $50.7 million more than last year," Schreiner said. "One component of that is the Margin of Excellence, but the base budgets also must be funded for the Margin to do any good. We're at a very crucial time at our universities."
SCHREINER, a Wakeeney senior, said he is most interested in the gubernatorial race because Lawrence's legislative candidates already support higher education because many of their constituents are connected to KU.
But he said student leaders will pay attention to the Legislature, largely because of last session's last-minute cut to KU's budget.
"We're asking students to send letters to the candidates about the Margin and higher education, encouraging them to express support for higher education," Schreiner said.
On Thursday, Hughes said students had signed about 2,000 form letters and sent about 300 personal letters to Gov. Hayden and gubernatorial candidate Joan Finney.
SCHREINER said he believed students were interested in the election because of the defeat of the Margin.
"I think you're seeing a lot more students register to vote," he explained. "The main reason is what happened to higher education. Two years ago, we were coming off a good year with the Margin."
Hughes said he was impressed by students' interest in the Margin.
"Higher education is one of few issues every student can be concerned about," Hughes said. "I didn't think many students knew what the Margin of Excellence was. But they know what it is, and they're excited about it. They see the long add/drop lines and the crowded classes. . ."