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Tuesday, November 08, 2011 - Debate allows students to engage, participate on national scale
By Katie Land, news editor

When the call went out for volunteers to participate in the Republican Presidential Debate at Oakland University, the student response was overwhelming. More than 200 Golden Grizzlies are working to make the Wednesday, Nov. 9, event a success.

This historic occasion marks a unique opportunity for students to participate in an important political event on a grand scale, while representing their university and home state.

“All across campus, we have had students come out and say they want to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience. They will have life changing and career changing opportunities,” said David Dulio, Ph.D., chair of OU’s Department of Political Science.

Students of all ages and from all disciplines of study have mobilized to participate in the event. The opportunities for involvement are vast and varied, but all will serve as the first line of welcome for visitors to campus.

Volunteer assignments include assisting CNBC with the debate’s production, acting as stand-ins for the candidates during rehearsals, shadowing journalists, hosting visitors and candidates, ushering the debate, assisting during the official Watch Party, directing visitors and parking and more.

Additionally, several members of the Oakland Post and WXOU will be credentialed members of the press team, able to observe and report alongside reporters from national media outlets. Nichole Seguin, managing content editor at The Post, will volunteer in the media room by day, and attend the debate at night.

“As an aspiring journalist, this is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Seguin said. “I can’t imagine a greater opportunity as a student than to be able to work alongside national media and to make contacts. I’ll be able to interact with reporters from important publications and stations. I just can’t wait to see what’s in store.”

As a member of student congress, sophomore Samantha Wolf has worked to put together the student-focused “Your Voice Heard…Live!” event, set for 8-10 p.m. in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The event, billed as a night of political activism through the arts, features performances by OU students, as well as a letter writing campaign, opportunities to get involved in politics, voter registration and more.

“This is a huge event, no matter if you are a Republican or not,” she said. “As students, we get to see something of national importance happen on our campus, and get to be a part of something big. As citizens, it is our responsibility to vote and our duty to be informed and aware of the issues at hand. The things that happen affect us, and it should be our choice. No matter what you believe in, this is a great opportunity to get involved, and stand up for it.”

One of the most interesting opportunities for students is to pose as a candidate during CNBC rehearsals. Torres McLean, a Master’s of Public Administration graduate student went through an extensive application and interview process to land the part of Republican candidate Herman Cain.

“As a student it is important to experience different things, and I want to learn as much as I can, in and out of the classroom,” McLean said. “I want to take advantage of the opportunities that are afforded to me from being in a college environment, and want to assist in any way possible to make this historic event a success.”

Many of the student volunteers selected will receive their assignments and participate in training sessions in the days leading up to the debate. Those working locations during the actual event will be working alongside volunteers for the Michigan Republican Party.

“It is unbelievable, the way students are being utilized for the event,” said Jean Ann Miller, director of the Center for Student Activities. “They will have a variety of opportunities to experience first-hand everything that happens behind the scenes of a national event. Throughout the next couple of days, our students are literally serving as OU's ambassadors and will make a lasting first impression to all visitors, locally and globally. We are very proud of them and all they do.”

For more information about the candidates, upcoming events, campus parking and more, visit the debate website at oakland.edu/debateatoakland.
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