Mock debates, election to encourage political participation

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

In an effort to stir up politically uninvolved students, three clubs will host a mock debate and election.

Three students will be on either side of the debate that will pit the Republican Party against the Democratic Party.

Though the merits of individual candidates will doubtless come up during the predirected questions and the audience question time, the focus of the debate will be on party values as a whole, said junior Austin Olson, chairman of the College Republicans.

“Every candidate in a party has different views than other candidates in the same party, but the basic values are the same,” he said.

College Democrats panelist Stephanie Chase agreed.

“I hope that in the debate we can try to focus more on the party as a whole and its appeals,” Chase said. “People … don’t realize there’s a whole range of issues on a party platform.”

Olson, an ag business student, will be debating on the Republican side and would like to see issues like drought relief, farm and ranch aid, abortion and gay rights be addressed.

Chase, a sophomore political science major, hopes to discuss the economy, the war in Iraq, health care and the enviornment.

Chase’s fellow panelists for the Democrats will be sophomore Justin Goetz and junior Jesse Lee.

Debating alongside Olson on the Republican panel will be junior Ryan Brunner and sophomore Sarah French.

While all of the panelists are preparing in different ways – from watching the presidential debates to reading newspapers – French said she feels prepared for the showdown because of her work.

“I’ve met the candidates for the Senate and House; I worked with them all summer; I’m working with them this fall. I know firsthand what they’re like and I’d like to express that to other voters,” she said.

After the debate, a mock election will be held. Chase has arranged to give students the chance to cast their votes in DePuy, Larson and Medary Commons from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday. This will show how SDSU fits into the state and national political spectrum, said senior Erica Hinders, president of the Political Science Club reponsible for organizing the debate and election with the input of College Democrats and Republicans.

Interesting as the vote may be, the real point of the debate and election isn’t to gauge how students are voting. It’s to get students educated and voting, the panelists said.

“The whole goal is to raise political awareness about Nov. 2,” Chase said. “I just really want to encourage students to participate in the political process.”

Goetz added, “Hopefully we can get them thinking and make them aware what’s going on around them.”