graduate Julian Coltre () will have a front-row seat to the kickoff of one of the most important elections of our time when he covers the Democratic National Convention for the Hofstra University radio station next month.
Coltre, a rising sophomore at Hofstra, started working for the campus station, WRHU, last fall and quickly established himself as one of the station’s go-to engineers. So when the school went looking for a group of students to send to this year’s political conventions—half to the GOP in Tampa, FL, the other half to the Democrats in Charlotte, NC—Coltre’s name ended up on the short list.
Though he’s a registered Democrat, Coltre said ideally he would have preferred to go to Tampa because he expects the vibe there will perhaps be less staid, less predictable, than the Democratic convention.
“It would have been a little bit of a different experience. Romney’s not an incumbent,” Coltre said.
But because the Democratic convention runs during the first week of school (Sept. 3-6) and since it was easier for Coltre to get out of his classes than it was for some other students, he’s soon Tampa-bound.
“I explained to (my professors) it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” said the 19-year-old. “The thing I’m most excited about is just the buzz in the convention center … It’s an event in itself. I’m a big sports guys, but the buzz at a convention can trump (a sporting event), because it’s something that’s impacting you directly.”
Julian’s father, Julius Jay, said he and his wife are very proud of Julian, to have earned such an opportunity after just one year at the university.
“It’s a privilege,” the elder Coltre said, adding that as a registered Democrat himself, “I am a little bit jealous … That’s something I always wanted to do.”
While Coltre’s main mission in Charlotte is to cover the convention—creating packages for the station, heading out into the city to talk to its citizens—he’ll also be evaluating the candidates, and keeping a close eye on the GOP team’s convention coverage, to help him make a decision come November.
His registration may say “Democrat,” but Coltre said he definitely hasn’t made up his mind about who to vote for. While Obama has his pluses, Coltre said the last four years in some ways have been disappointing and there are “positives to why Romney might be a good change.”
Then again, some of the Republican candidate’s positions don’t jibe with Coltre’s—particularly his support of continued tax cuts for the rich and lack of a clear plan to restore the middle class, which is the most important issue in this election for Coltre.
“This 2012 election will affect me as a 20-year-old a lot more than it would affect someone like my dad at 62 years old,” he said. “It’s going to change the way the country’s looked at internally and in foreign affairs.”
One thing is certain: Coltre, who will turn 20 before Election Day, understands the significance of this election, both for himself and the country as a whole.
“I’m right in the middle,” he said. “This convention, and following the coverage of the Republican convention, I think is going to be a major turning point (for me).”
Hofstra will host one of the presidential debates in October, which is one of the reasons the school was chosen to send students to the conventions, according to Coltre.
He expressed deep pride in the station’s work—which includes serving as the radio home of the New York Islanders—saying, “The radio station is completely student-run … Just because we may not have the backing that big media outlets have, we certainly can do just as good, if not better.”
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