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Florida State U. Dems, Republicans To Debate; Presidential Campaigns Will Send Reps

This story was written by Alicia Adams, FSView & Florida Flambeau

College Republicans and College Democrats at Florida State University will debate the policies of the two presidential candidates Oct. 17.

The debate is organized by the university's Student Government Association academic affairs office. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the town-hall style debate will beging at 6:30 p.m.The official campaigns for senators Barack Obama and John McCain have also confirmed that they'll be sending representatives to Friday's debate.

"It is important for universities to hold these events so the student body can become aware of the policies being voted on instead of just name recognition," said Karissa Hazzard, president of FSU College Democrats.

The event will begin with Jameel McKanstry and Janderlyn White performing a duet followed by FSU's All Night Yahtzee singing "Hallelujah" and "America the Beautiful." A short video introducing events going on in the country will play afterwards to transition into the debate.

"I really encourage students to come as an opportunity to educate themselves on the issues before the election," Hazzard said. "It will also be a really fun and entertaining event to attend."

The debaters will represent the candidates' respective views on the issues to help inform the students more about each campaign.

"The real purpose of this debate is not to win, but to educate students on the issues," said John Formella, chairman of the College Republicans. "More students may come to something like this rather than watching a debate because they can relate more with their fellow students who are representing the candidates' views."

"Since this is a town-hall debate, the audience is the moderator," said Ecclesiast Guerrier, SGA's secretary of Academic Affairs. "The students will be able to participate actively by asking questions that they want to know the answers to. The central premise of the debate is to get the student body educated on the issues before election day."

The SGA is hoping for more than 1,000 people to attend. Guerriersaid it is very important for students to be involved in the political process now before graduating.

"This is important because what we do in college will greatly affect what we do as citizens," Guerrier said. "Researching issues while we are still experimenting with the election process can help us make informed decisions when we become full citizens."

Students will also be able hear about the major issues of the campaign and the ones they ask questions about from the perspective of other students.

"A student would benefit by learning the candidates' policies on each of the four major issues: the economy, foreign policy, education and healthcare," Hazzard said.

Not only do students attending the debate learn about the issues, the participants will also take something from the experience.

"Participating in debates helps because as a person becomes more interested in the issues, they really learn about them," Formella said. "The debaters also have to think more critically about the issues. It is easy to listen to the issues, but when you have to defend them, you have to really think about what you believe and why you believe it."

The College Democrats and the College Republicans have been practicing to make sure that they are informed on the issues before Friday's debate.

"The previous debates have helped us prepare for this one, and we are holding a debate prep session to practice answering questions," Hazzard said.

The College Republicans formed a team in anticipation of the debates that would take place during election year.

"We formed debate team about a month ago, and they have been practicing a lot -- almost every night at this point," Formella said. "They ask each other questions and try to get familiar with each of the main issues."