#CollegeDebate16 Lets Students Set the Presidential Debate Agenda

This article was originally featured on Affinity Magazine.

Politics without partisanship—many would say it’s an almost unthinkable concept in today’s political climate. One hundred and fifty college students believe otherwise and are working to make a difference.

Last month, Dominican University of California, a voter education partner for the Commission on Presidential Debates, hosted #CollegeDebate16. “College Debate 2016 is a national, non-partisan initiative to empower young voters to identify issues and engage peers in the presidential election,” reads the program’s website.

At the event, college students from around the country gathered together to discuss what issues matter most to them. With ideological backgrounds spanning from left to right and in between, the focus of the event was collaboration, discourse, and the power of youth vote.

Julie Winokur, producer and director of Bring it to the Table, kicked off the festivities with a screening of the film focused on civil dialogue and understanding how one’s experiences may influence their political narrative. Following the screening, Julie facilitated a live demonstration of the film’s main focus. It was as simple as sitting across the table from another and just listening to them speak. The key to the exercise was to not to just hear what the other person was saying, but to actively listen.

After Julie caDSC_3462.jpgpped the evening off, Dr. Sybril Brown opened the next day with a rousing presentation explaining the benefits and potential consequences of social media and technology usage. “Social media brands us,” Dr. Brown explained, “but it also
commits us to excellence.” California Secretary of State Alex
Padilla followed her, challenging the group by asking “Aren’t you tired of hearing that you are the leaders of tomorrow? I see the leaders of today.” The host of The Open Mind on PBS, Alex Heffner, ended the speaker series contending that “Disenfranchisement of the people participating in discourse leads people to absolute rage rather than reason.”
All four speakers emphasized a central theme: we are the future today. “If I care about my community and I want to see things change, I have to get involved” said Sec. Padilla.

Are you ready to get involved? Join the conversation across your social media platforms. Express what issues matter most to you in this election, and make sure to include the hashtag #CollegeDebate16 so others can join in with you. Your issue might even make it to the debate stage.

There’s too much at stake to stand by idly.CD16_Horz_Logo-1.png


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