Student turnout at recent presidential candidate forums meager

by Christopher Livingston
Production Manager 

The Presidential Search is currently progressing toward its final stages. The four finalists have been announced, and May 18 is the deadline for candidate selection.

As administrators are moving toward christening a new leader, there has been a dearth of student involvement on campus. Student attendance of the recently held open forums at COD’s Pollock Theatre has been low compared to the attendance of faculty and staff.

These open forums are sessions where the candidates take questions and answers from faculty, administration, staff and students. Attendees are given a note card on which questions can be written. After the Q &A session is moderated, note cards are selected at random and read to the candidate. Because of low student turnout, the number of student questions being addressed is minimal.

“It was as if every question was written by a faculty member. They only selected three or four questions and none of the questions were written by my friends or me,” says Sofie Casassa, who attended the open forum for Dr. Angela Fairchilds. “Only three of us were there – the rest were faculty.”

With heightened student participation in activities, such as protests in Sacramento and rallies throughout California, it’s a wonder why student attendance at the open forums is low. Much like a U.S. presidential debate, forums provide excellent ways for students to understand the leadership philosophies and viewpoints of each candidate.

Adjunct faculty member, Stan Dupree, of the search advisory committee, said student participation is important, especially to the Board of Trustees, who are involved with the final selection process. Participation is also vital for the democratic process it promotes.  “As I told my students, ‘this is America, this is democracy–government by the people–this is precisely how it works, this is your opportunity to participate in a meaningful way.'”

“Get involved, make your views known, and while participating, you will learn how the process works,'” advises Dupree.

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