With less than five weeks to go in the 2008 presidential campaign, supporters of a new campus group think it is time for the Yale community to consider a third voice in the election.
Spurred by Ralph Nader’s upcoming visit to Connecticut, Yale for Nader organizer Nicolas Niarchos ’11 said he hopes to present the four-time presidential candidate to students as a viable alternative to Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain. Although the group still has yet to meet, Niarchos said that over the next several weeks, it will host a series of informational events to generate excitement about the longtime consumer advocate.
Student supporters of the two main presidential candidates said they were either not previously aware of the group or not fazed by its creation.
Niarchos, a staff reporter for the News, said he envisions Yale for Nader as a forum to reintroduce students to a candidate the media, in his opinion, have completely overlooked in this year’s campaign coverage.
“What we’ve seen in this campaign is a sort of media blackout [of Nader],” he said. “This is a person that represented the interests of [nearly] 3 million Americans in the  election.”
In 2004, Nader received 465,650 votes.
Niarchos also criticized the two-party system of government. He said Nader has been raising some issues poorly addressed by both campaigns, such as universal health care, oil dependence and corporate influence in politics.
To further student discussion, Yale for Nader has invited Ashley Sanders, youth spokeswoman for the Nader campaign, to speak on campus on Oct. 6.
Sanders, who is currently touring college campuses in the Northeast, spoke of the importance of having an alternative to the major candidates.
“College students should know that there are more than two options in this election,” Sanders said. “They can vote for a candidate who is opposed to war, undue corporate power, and [has positions on issues] that the majority of Americans support but are not represented by the two major candidates.”
Niarchos said he hopes Sanders’ appearance, which will come right after two Nader rallies in Waterbury and Storrs, Conn., on Oct. 4, will prompt Yalies to reexamine their views about the 2008 presidential campaign as Election Day draws near.
Thus far, Niarchos has e-mailed hundreds of students about his new group. He said he has received “many” responses — although he did not specify a total — from both supporters and detractors about the push for a Nader presence on campus.
Longtime Nader supporter Jason Brown FES ’10 said in an e-mail that he only recently found out about the group forming, but said he is excited about the dialogue it could bring to campus.
“I think the discussion will be especially relevant this year, as the Democratic and Republican candidates are not addressing [the issues] as directly as many would like,” he wrote.
As Yale for Nader attempts to raise awareness on campus about the perennial third-party candidate, student supporters of Obama and McCain said they believe that the group’s efforts, though admirable, will not have much effect on campaign discourse at Yale.
Brad Galiette ’08 SOM ’11, president of Yale for McCain, said that a similar initiative in 2004 failed to garner support for Nader within the Yale community. Although Galiette said he looks forward to interacting with Yale for Nader, he said he doubts the group will draw much attention on campus.
“Those of us at Yale supporting McCain do not anticipate that Nader’s candidacy will resonate with more than a few Yale students, even given some additional exposure from this group,” Galiette wrote in an e-mail.
Ben Lazarus ’10, co-director of Yale for Obama, was more direct.
“It’s not affecting us in any way,” he said when asked whether the Nader group would affect Yale for Obama’s activities.
Yale for Nader will screen “An Unreasonable Man,” a documentary on Ralph Nader, on Oct. 6 at Sage Hall. Sanders will be moderating a discussion on the film immediately following the screening.