Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Taryn Parsons at email@example.com.
The Republican presidential debate being held at the University of Colorado’s Coors Events Center on Oct. 28 has caused much discontent within the student population since the announcement that only 50 tickets would be available to students. Although that number rose to 150, frustration is still high among students.
Student exclusion has had clear effects on the Boulder community, but has it also increased participation in political enthusiasm? A non-partisan student group called Student Voices Count came to life in September, and has since gained over 800 followers on Facebook. Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley has even taken part in the enthusiasm for student inclusion.
The debate has incited both controversy and excitement in notoriously liberal Boulder, which has never hosted a GOP debate. Associate Professor Anand Sokhey of CU’s Department of Political Science said it’s entirely possible that the exclusion of students from the debate has caused more political enthusiasm in the student body.
“It’s hard to quantify the effect of the low ticket allocation, because nothing like this has happened in Boulder before,” Sokhey said. “But it seems like students might be getting more interested in the political process because of it.”
Outrage has caused mobilization within the student body and the Boulder community as a whole, which could be a good thing. However, Sokhey notes that it’s difficult to figure out how much student enthusiasm has increased as a result of the exclusionary nature of the debate.
“It is hard to tell how much protest there would be anyway because of Boulder’s liberal tendencies,” Sokhey said. “It is a clash of ideologies.”
It’s important to note that not all students are interested in the political process, even with the frustration the debate has caused.
“Historically, there are lower patterns of political participation in younger people,” Sokhey said.
According to the United States Election Project, only 58.6 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2012 presidential elections, although Colorado had a higher rate of voter participation than the national average, at 70.7 percent. Out of that percentage, voters between the ages of 18 and 24 had the lowest turnout rate.
Even though the debate is a rather disappointing lost opportunity for the students, it’s important to remember to not blame the school. The debate is, first and foremost, a media event.
“The University’s hands were tied in this,” Sokhey said. “The faculty and staff share the frustrations of the students.”
There will be a designated free speech area in the business field across from the Coors Events Center. The debate will be televised on CNBC starting at 6 p.m.