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Greening The Political Scene

This story was written by Julia Russell, The Diamondback

Clean Energy forUniversity of Marylandhosted a student-led panel about energy and the environment in the election Tuesday night, allowing students to hear from College Democrats and College Republicans about each presidential candidate's stance on the issues and ask questions concerning the different platforms.

Ali Adler, a sophomore sociology major and campaign director for Clean Energy for UMD, moderated the event and said she was pleased with the number of students in attendance.

"I was pleasantly surprised with the turnout," she said. "I think the attendance reflected student interest in the issues."

The panel consisted of four members of the College Democrats and one member ofthe College Republicans.

Robb Walton, a senior history major and the only member of the College Republicans to represent Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) platforms, admitted he did not think a lot of students would show up. He said he did not know what to expect from the event and was surprised to be the only representative for the Republicans.

"This event just fell through the cracks [for College Republicans]," he said. "People signed up but they forgot to follow up."

But Walton said he was happy to present McCain's opinions to a group who did not necessarily know a lot about them.

"Hopefully, people will chew on [McCain's platforms] and find something they like, because these issues affect every single other issue," he said.

John Allenbach, a junior finance and marketing major and president of the College Democrats, was one of the Democrats to speak for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). He said he and his fellow Democratic panelists researched Obama's opinions on about 15 questions, which were provided to the panelists two weeks ago.

The panelists took turns answering questions concerning climate change, the energy crisis and how the two candidates would financially impact the United States.

Adler said she felt the students in attendance wanted to learn more about the issues.

"I don't think people should base their decisions on this event, but I hope they will think more about it," she said.

Melissa Duvall, an Obama supporter and a sophomore environmental science and policy major, went to the debate because she wants to get more involved in clean energy issues on the campus. She said Walton's performance surprised her.

"I do think the Republicans did a better job of representing their point of view in tonight's debate," she said. "Especially considering there was only one Republican in a room of mostly Democrats."

Despite the small showing from the College Republicans, the group's president, Chris Banerjee, had earlier expressed interest in the group's participation in the panel.

"[We] wanted to counter the stereotype of Republicans as anti-environment, or as a party that doesn't care about the environment," he said.

Staff writer Allison Stice contributed information to this story.