By Taygra Longstaff
CU Boulder Graduate Student
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Soon after coming to the University of Colorado Boulder to start my graduate studies, I learned that the school was scheduled to host one of the Republican presidential debates leading up to next year’s election. I found this interesting, seeing as Boulder is widely known as a liberal city, and Colorado a purple state, but my questions were answered quickly from an article in the Daily Camera on June 16 that said, “The campus, often perceived as a left-leaning academic hub, has been working to bring more political diversity to Boulder in recent years…Republican Regent Sue Sharkey, who has made political diversity at the Boulder campus a focus during her tenure on the board, said the upcoming debate will “expose students to conservative candidates and their ideas.” While these may have been the intentions of holding the debate at CU, they are not going to be accomplished.
It was recently released that in an arena that can seat about 11,000, there will only be approximately 1,000 attendees to the event, of which the Republican National Committee has allotted only 50 spots (now 100) for CU students, faculty and staff. So far there has been no indication of any way to get any of the remaining seats and the recent reports indicate that the remaining tickets will be saved for donors, media officials and other RNC affiliates. Why hold a debate on a college campus if you’re not going to allow college students to attend and hear your message? Aren’t college students one of the largest populations of untapped voters?
One would think that since a main reason for not voting is being under-informed, any party or candidate would relish in the opportunity to present their opinions on major issues to a large group of potential voters. With the perfect chance to allow for this age group to become involved in today’s political discussions, we are instead being actively denied access. I believe this action speaks volumes to the GOP platform and the level of importance they put on issues pertaining to students and younger Americans. I hope that this action on behalf of the RNC encourages millennial voters to look at the respect they are being given as a citizen of this country, and how the platform of each candidate affects them directly.
Equally as important as not letting students be a part of this debate is that by holding it on campus, the RNC is giving the false impression that the CU Boulder community is involved. The debate will be false advertising to the millions of people watching at home who will most likely assume that since the debate is on a college campus that students and staff would be making up more than 10 percent of the audience. With CU actively seeking to host this debate I am disappointed that they did not advocate for a larger student audience; however, with a month before the debate there is still time to fix this mistake and allow a larger student representation.
With the outcome of this election likely to greatly impact my future, I am insulted that my peers and I are not being taken seriously. This decision portrays a view that young voters don’t want to be informed, cannot be respectful and overall don’t care about being involved. To which I say, you are dead wrong.