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What is the College Debate 2016 Convention?

College Debate Convention

Activists and political followers junkies alike will be at home at the College Debate Convention. (College Debate 16/Flickr)

Early in the semester, Dominican University of California announced College Debate 2016 would be accepting applications for student delegates for the College Debate Convention. If you wondered what a college delegate was, or what the College Debate Convention is, you are not alone. The College Debate Convention is an event hosted by College Debate 2016, a voter education program aimed at students who are in college. College Debate, however, reaches a wider audience than just college students.

College Debate 2016 aims to foster political engagement among youth by shifting the talk of politics away from political parties and towards the issues that most concern people. Something like this has never happened before. This is something that Hanna Rodriguez-Farrar, lead coordinator, stressed to me when I asked what the program was ultimately trying to accomplish through the College Debate Convention happening in September.

What blew my mind is that the program is almost entirely run by the students. Not including the delegates, there are five interns working with Rodriguez-Farrar. Every student I’ve talked to involved with the program are all passionate about this project. A big reason for this is that many of us are now old enough to vote in a presidential election. For them (and for me) this is a pretty big deal.

The College Debate Convention is a way the program is bringing students from across the country together to talk about the issues in a civil environment. It starts with finding delegates from students who are currently attending college and want to be involved with the College Debate program.

"To be authentic, it really needs to be driven by the students,” Rodriguez-Farrar said. And it is. To accurately and fairly represented students within the program and have a wide range of issues to discuss, the goal is to have two to four student delegates from every state.

Student delegates will discuss with other student delegates what issues are important at their college and state. In turn, student delegates bring these issues from other delegates to their own college campus in order to reach a wider audience on a variety of issues.

Student delegates are creating a series of connections to form a network, all towards getting people to be politically engaged. College Debate, a grassroots movement, aims to move from the bottom up, rather than wait for a top-down movement. This network makes it possible for this program to gain traction.

The delegates for the College Debate Convention were chosen on April 15. From there, the delegates will meet each other online and have a series of discussions leading up to the first meeting from June 1-3. In June, the delegates will participate in workshops, seminars, and discussions on how to use social media to spread and discuss issues, as well as how to engage others in the voting process.

September 9-10 is the culmination of the College Debate effort with the College Debate Convention. The main event during these days is a town hall meeting in Conlan Center. During this town hall meeting, community members and students will come together to debate the most pressing issues they want the presidential candidates to address.

After the debate, the issues will then be given to the moderators of the upcoming presidential debates through social media like Twitter or Facebook.

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What is the College Debate 2016 Convention?

Francyne Hari

Francyne Hari is a communications major at Dominican University of California. Her concentration is on multimedia journalism and broadcasting and she hopes to one day become a director. She’s involved with DU's College Debate Initiative, which follows the 2016 presidential campaign and seeks to get college students more politically engaged. She likes to watch YouTube videos and play video games and is part of a medieval combat society.

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