RSOs team up for 'Debate Under the Stars'
Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Updated: Sunday, July 19, 2009 04:07
University students came out in droves on Wednesday to watch the final presidential debate between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain. The debate between the two candidates was projected live onto a big screen on the North Green.
Many in attendance were vocal as the candidates discussed campaign issues. The crowd laughed when the candidates were asked what they thought of their opponent's vice presidential pick. They cheered when Obama spoke of his intention to offer students the opportunity to graduate with less debt by granting a tax credit on their tuition costs in exchange for community service.
The event, called "Debate Under the Stars," was organized by Students in the Public Interest and sponsored by College Democrats, College Republicans, Youth Vote, Students for the Environment and several other Registered Student Organizations.
Emily Manz, president of SIPI, said she hoped the event would draw students who have yet to watch any of the previous debates.
"I think it's important for students to be able to discuss what's going on with their friends who might be of different political beliefs," Manz said. "It's a good opportunity for students to hear about the issues."
Freshman Michelle Allen said the event encouraged her to watch the debate when she may not have otherwise and keeping up-to-date on the campaigns is essential.
"It keeps me informed," Allen said. "The outcome of the election is going to have an effect on our lives."
Sophomore Laura Athmejvar said events like "Debate Under the Stars" help increase students' knowledge of where presidential contenders stand, rather than only the one they favor personally.
"If you want to make a case for Obama or McCain, you need to know a lot about the other candidate," Athmejvar said. "I think people need to get over their biases and vote based on the policies."
In 2006, The Princeton Review ranked the university as the fourth most apathetic school in the nation.
Lara Rausch, president of College Republicans, said she feels apathy at the university is declining. She said a major part of growing up is gaining an awareness of political processes and what the candidates have to offer.
"In order to be a well-rounded citizen of the United States you have to be able to be involved with all things that affect you," Rausch said. "There's no reason why you can't be involved."
She said while the organizations that sponsored the event have their own objectives, a common goal of each is to motivate fellow students to become more active in politics.
Erin Dilworth, co-president of Students for the Environment, said the debate broadcasted on the Green brings together a large number of people and helps spread the word to other students.
"These kind of events are good to show that there are people that care and are interested," Dilworth said. "It's just good to raise awareness."
Manz said "Debate Under the Stars" and similar events are designed to add a flair of excitement to the process.
"It's social and educational at the same time," she said. "Everybody likes to do something like this outside, and now it's about politics."