Presidential Debate: Tressel to Moderate Debate Between College Conservatives and College Democrats

On Oct. 30, President Jim Tressel will be moderating a debate between the College Democrats and the College Conservatives.

Ernie Barkett, president of the College Democrats, said he pitched the idea to Tressel during an unrelated meeting.

“I just brought it up. I said ‘Well, we’re thinking about putting on a debate, would you like to be the moderator for it,’ and he was right on board,” Barkett said.

Tressel said he thinks it’s an important event because voters have a responsibility to be politically aware.

“I think one of the most valuable things you have is a vote, and that you ought to be aware of what’s being discussed by all involved,” Tressel said. “This is about political awareness, and it’s an opportunity to have the issues discussed and elicit some thinking and give people a vantage point from which they can be more informed as they head to the polls.”

Christopher Anderson, the communications director for the College Democrats, said the goal of the event is to present both sides of several important issues and increase voter turnout this November.

“Our goal is that after this event people will get out and vote. No matter what party they’re a member of or what stance they take on these issues, we’re focused on making sure they get to the polls and take part in democracy,” Anderson said.

Mark Stanford, president of the College Conservatives, said he sees the event as an opportunity to educate people.

“We want to help educate students on important topics and important political issues affecting young people that they don’t necessarily hear about,” Stanford said.

He said a lot of the stigma that surrounds conservatism could be dispelled if people set their preconceptions aside and listen to them.

“There are a lot of stereotypes that come with being a conservative that I think are inaccurate, and we hope to combat that,” Stanford said.

Barkett said they wanted to do something with the College Conservatives before the election and a debate seemed like the best fit.

“We were trying to decide on an event that would educate voters. We were thinking about doing a meet the candidates event, but we knew it was very close to election time,” he said. “So we met with the College Conservatives, we talked for a little bit, and we decided to have a debate because we thought that’d be great to educate voters, and we also thought it would be great to get some word out.”

Stanford said they were also interested in having a debate when they heard that the College Democrats had re-formed.

Students who attend the debate can submit questions on Twitter via a yet-to-be-disclosed hashtag. Debaters will field audience questions at the end of each debate topic.

“Whichever questions we either decide are the best or if there are enough that we can answer them all, we’ll answer all the questions at the end of each debate topic,” Barkett said.

They will take time constraints into account, and Stanford noted that they had already reduced the list of issues they will debate.

“We want to focus on the things that are really going to impact students’ lives as they move into adulthood,” Stanford said.

Tressel hopes that students will come out to get informed about these issues.

“We’re fortunate that we live in a country where you can vote, and I’m hoping that a lot of people come to get more informed, and then do indeed go vote,” he said.

The debate will take place at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30 in the DeBartolo Lecture Hall.