Campus political groups to host upcoming debate

Campus political groups to host upcoming debate

by Emily SchettlerStaff Writer

Members of the Simpson College Democrats and Simpson College Republicans will go head-to-head in a debate on issues widely discussed in the 2008 presidential campaigns in a forum to be held at 7 p.m. in Camp Lounge on Monday.

The debate will focus on where each party stands on four issues- the Iraq war, education, healthcare and the economy. Members of both groups say that now is an important time for students to determine where they stand.

“It’s a really good way to get people not only excited, but also motivated about the process,” sophomore Justin Zenanko, founder of Simpson College Republicans, said.

According to Bardwell, the debate is an opportunity for students to engage in critical thinking and become better citizens.

“I think sometimes we assume too much in terms of people’s knowledge of where the parties are on major policies like healthcare and education,” he said. “There’s a real opportunity for the college to be part of that education process, helping people understand the issues and to better engage with their citizenship once they leave here.”

Zenanko came up with the idea of the debate as a way to give voters a clear view of the different messages each group has.

“Instead of trying to do all that research on their own, people can come to the debate and get a feeling for where the parties stand,” Zenanko said. “They can get kind of an idea of, if these parties get in to govern, what policies or agendas they’re going to pursue.”

Sophomore Jamie Corey, co-president of the Simpson College Democrats, agreed that the goal of the debate is to educate students and get them excited about politics.

“Whenever we sit in the BSC and try registering students to vote, the most common response is they don’t care,” she said. “I want them to realize that all these issues affect them now and in the long run.”

According to Bardwell, debates such as this also help participants gain leadership skills. He said that having discussions among people with very different views gives students an opportunity to express their views and have them tested. Everyone involved- from the participants to audience members- learn from the exchange.

“I think this is part of a continual process of education that students engage in here at Simpson, which considers itself a liberal arts college, in teaching you not how to be a skilled worker, but how to be a good citizen,” Bardwell said.

Bardwell said he’d like to see more student-initiated events, like this debate, on campus.

“We’re teaching leadership,” he said. “At a certain point, we need to let students loose to run a little bit and make mistakes sometimes.”

Corey is excited to participate in the debate and share her interest in politics with other students.

“I have energy and passion about these issues,” she said. “I want to keep the energy high. I want the audience to realize that they can make a difference. I want them to realize they can have a voice in this next election, because that is important.”