Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 23, 1996

"Choose Or Lose"
Bus Rolls At
Homewood To Rock
The Vote

As the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium sets about trying to define what it calls Generation X, members of that generation were busy trying to shape it.

The MTV's "Choose or Lose" bus rolled onto the Homewood campus last Monday, offering students a one-stop shop where they could register to vote and get information about the upcoming presidential election.

The large, custom-built bus is painted red, white and blue. Its roof is decked out in star-spangled silver. It cost $800,000 to build and is loaded with two video kiosks, a computer, all the modern comforts and conveniences, two sound systems and a fully operational editing room.

It's hard to miss.

Through a steady midday rain, dozens of students found their way under the bus's foldout canopy. Once there, slogans, drawn like graffiti on a roadside wall, focused their attention on the matter most at hand:

"If they're not voting, we're not touching their hearts and minds," read one attributed to Rep. Lynn Martin.

"How weird do things have to get before you register and vote?" was scrawled from a lyric by rapper LL Cool Jay.

MTV's election year coverage--both in 1992 and this year-- has sought to help its generation understand just how weird their world might be.

The "Choose or Lose" campaign has conducted live, on-air interviews--before live studio audiences--with the major presidential candidates (President George Bush was the only one since 1992 to decline to appear on the network's "Rock the Vote" forums).

It also produces a voter's guide, issue-oriented news specials, weekly campaign updates and coverage of the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions.

"Choose or Lose" does not pretend to be an objective, mainstream reportorial effort. It has, from the beginning, been an advocate for youth, trying to engage a generation often labeled as apathetic and politically ambivalent through music and visuals.

And while it has been entertaining and informative, all of MTV's on-and-off the air effort, they say, has largely been directed at getting young people active in the decision-making process.

Their effort seems to be working. Since the "Choose or Lose" bus rolled out of New York in January of this year, network sources say, the bus team has signed up about 30,000 new young voters.

The Hopkins visit came after persistent prodding from 19-year-old political science major Jacoba Zelinsky. As Orientation chair this year, she also staged a "Rock the Vote" party at E-Level for the freshmen at which the League of Women Voters provided campaign information and the opportunity for freshmen to register.

Zelinsky told The Sun that she urged freshmen, "Party, but try to do something useful."

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