Political panel hopes to create more student involvement
Political discussion will be in the air Oct. 25 as six students representing three realms of political thought engage each other in a forum discussion meant to pique interest in the upcoming presidential elections.
The panel will begin at 7 p.m. in Sutherland Auditorium.
A diverse panel
John Reid, a senior political science major, organized the event in preparation for the Nov. 6 election.
“It’s an opportunity for students to come and hear poli-sci students — or students who are well-informed — about particular issues that are going to be influential in this election,” Reid said. “They’re going to have an opportunity to hear about what each candidates feels about these topics.”
The forum will consist of six students representing three political parties: two students each for the Republican Party, Democratic Party and the Libertarian Party. Reid is one of the Republicans on the panel.
“My hope is that students who will be voting will be able to vote informed, they will be able to vote comfortably,” he said. “I don’t want students to write ‘Democrat’ because they grew up a Democrat; I don’t want them to just put ‘Republican’ because they’re pro-life. I want them to vote because they sincerely think that that’s where they’re supposed to be fitting in.”
Apathy on campus part of a bigger stereotype
The political climate at Biola was described by several of the panelists as indifferent.
“It’s extraordinarily apathetic,” said panelist Shaefer Bagwell. He is a sophomore political science major, one of the Democrat representatives on the panel and the Chimes opinions editor. Bagwell commented that the apathy may be linked to a the similarities on issues found between the two candidates.
“When you actually have a real choice, people are going to make a choice, but when you have that situation when Romney comes back to the center and Obama comes back to the center, people don’t care; you meet with the ‘new boss is same as the old boss’ situation,” he said.
Senior humanities major Janine Marderian, who serves the panel by representing the Libertarian Party, attributed apathy to popular perceptions about politics.
“There’s kind of a negative stereotype around politics, and it’s much easier to just say ‘Oh, I don’t like politics, I’m not going to pay attention,’” Marderian said. “Students don’t know why [politics] matter to them; they feel disconnected from the political arena and they don’t see it as very important.”
Reid also commented on student political indifference.
“I don’t think it’s just apathetic and interested,” he said. “There are those who are interested but just don’t have the resources, so we’re saying ‘Hey, here’s a couple hours of resources.’”
An challenge to step out and make a difference
The panelists feel that this apathy needs to be replaced with a care for politics.
“I think it is really important to recognize that caring about these issues needs to start now,” Marderian said. “There’s sometimes the perception that we can worry about politics later.”
The panelists expressed a hope that students would be inspired to come out and vote.
“Go out there and make a decision,” said senior political science major Christian Kaiser, the second Libertarian on the panel.
Bagwell encouraged students that their vote matters.
“If you join a movement, if you become part of something, then you will matter,” he said.
Marderian gave some final thoughts on student political involvement.
“It’s just as important for people who are not ‘into politics’ to be engaged with these issues, and to have a voice — but more importantly to have a voice that has something meaningful to say.”