On-Campus Panels and Forums Prepare Students for Elections

During the first presidential election to be held in a time of war since 1972, the History and Social Sciences and Community Service Departments encourage students to be informed and active in politically related campus events, including a mock election. The History Department has sponsored two panels regarding the presidential debates, with panel members hoping to answer students’ questions about the issues to be discussed in the presidential debates. The Center for Global Justice, under the auspices of the Community Service Department, sponsored a discussion Tuesday night about the candidates’ positions on healthcare. The group plans to host a forum this Tuesday night about poverty in relation to the election. Although the majority of students are still not of age to cast a vote in this year’s election, everyone will get a chance to cast their ballot for the candidate of their choice through the school-wide election to be held next Friday during advising period. Andover’s results will then be tallied with 250 schools representing every state in the union. Coordinated through the Northfield Mount Herman School, project V.O.T.E.S. (Voting Opportunities for Teenagers in Every State) has correctly predicted the winner of every election since 1988. Director of the History Department Victor Henningsen said, “I think it’s an opportunity to participate. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, ‘Not to participate fully in the action and passion of the times is to risk the judgment of not having lived at all.’” The mock election will offer students a ballot with candidates of all political persuasion, including everyone from Ralph Nader, and Libertarian candidates to the more traditional offerings of the Republican and Democratic parties. On the back of these ballots will be an opinion poll, with questions regarding the environment, economy, and the war in Iraq. The poll was created to gage the opinions of the teenage population from very different geographic backgrounds. This is Andover’s first time participating in the program, but there are high expectations. “We hope to get 100% participation,” said Mr. Henningsen. The results of the election will be released Monday, October 25 via PAnet and the combined results from all participating schools will be available for review later that same week. To assure students are well informed, whether casting their ballot with their advisor or at an official polling place, the History Department sponsored panels to discuss the relevant campaign issues. The first panel, featuring members of the History and Social Science Department, analyzed the effects of the debate on the election. Discussion centered around whether or not the debates actually make a difference in November and what topics generally get avoided. The panel then discussed what would be required of each candidate to get ahead in the polls. The discussion served as a forum for students to question the panelists on foreign relations in preparation for the night’s debate. The second panel focused more directly on the specifics of Wednesday night’s final Presidential Debate. The panel discussed at length United State’s current economic standing and how it will affect the financial stability of the nation in the future. The Center for Global Justice’s forum brought light to the issues that are not covered in the debates or commonly highlighted by the media. As Aviva Stahl ’05, director of the Center for Global Justice, said, “I think that there’s a lot of things that are really important in this election that aren’t seen in the media. I don’t hear the candidates talk a lot about hunger and poverty.” “I think it’s important to give students a forum to learn about these issues. She continued, “Only after learning about problems can you understand the candidate’s plans and appreciate whether or not they will be effective.”