CMU Students attend Cleveland Debate

While the Presidential candidates prepare for the November election with a series of debates, last weekend six Carnegie Mellon students tried their hands in the political sphere by participating in mock Democratic and Republican conventions and a simulated debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Case Western built the program around the real Vice-Presidential debate, which was held at that university last Tuesday. Fifteen colleges attended the event, including Carnegie Mellon, Case Western, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Ohio State. Each school sent a delegation of students and represented a state in the convention.
Senior ethics and public policy major and student body president Erik Michaels-Ober led Carnegie Mellon?s group, which consisted of H&SS sophomore Maureen Burns, sophomore CS major Joe Arasin, junior chemical engineering major Nicholas Scocozzo, sophomore music major Jean Lester, and fifth-year senior Mark Egerman.
Invitations to attend the event were sent to student government leaders, Student Senators, and fifth-year scholars. Interested students had to write an application essay explaining their reasons for wanting to attend.
?I?ve never had a lot of experience with American politics. I thought this would be good exposure,? said Burns.
On October 2 and 3 delegates selected their preferred political party and joined one of the party?s subcommittees: national security, domestic policy, social issues, and the economy. The role of each subcommittee, according to Michaels-Ober, was to collect the party?s ideas and create a platform on the issue which would later be presented at the debate. ?We had to be realistic in our ideas for the platform, because we knew we would have to debate them the next night,? he said.
One student from each subcommittee was then selected to participate in the debate Monday night, which was moderated by Judy Woodruff, one of CNN?s top political anchors.
?It wasn?t about who won. It was debating to see where we stand on important policy issues,? said Michaels-Ober.

On Tuesday night, the delegates were invited to a VIP reception from which they watched the actual Vice-Presidential debate on television, just outside the stage where the debate was held.
?In our debate there wasn?t as much cut along Democratic and Republican lines ? and there were no personal attacks,? said Scocozzo, citing the differences between the real and mock debates. ?Some of the party platforms were similar to the larger corresponding party, but there were some significant differences.?
?It definitely gave me a better understanding of how the issues are involved in the campaign,? said Burns.