After an uncontested ballot last spring required no debate, the University of Colorado’s student leaders have revamped this semester’s candidate face-off in hopes of reviving interest and participation in next week’s elections.
The University of Colorado Student Union will host its candidate forum from 7 to 9:15 p.m. Tuesday in the University Memorial Center, complete with free appetizers and socializing before the main event: an hour-long debate that primarily will focus on presidential candidates Will Taylor and Hunter Barnett.
What: University of Colorado Student Union Candidates’ Debate
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: University Memorial Center, Room 235, CU campus, Boulder
CU student leaders began discussing changes to their debate format after last fall’s event attracted fewer than 10 students. Instead of holding the forum in a stuffy auditorium with two candidates throwing verbal jabs from their pulpits, Tuesday night’s debate will include mingling with the candidates face-to-face.
For the first half hour, students will be able to speak one-on-one with the candidates about anything they want, followed by an introduction from current tri-executive Daniel Ramos and, finally, an hour-long debate between the two tickets, representing the majority of the 38 candidates running for office this semester.
The event’s Facebook page confirms 219 guests as of Monday night, and if even half actually show up, it would be a major improvement over the last few years, which peaked in fall 2008 with just under 40 students in attendance, said Barnett, presidential candidate for the Veritas ticket.
“It makes sense to me that students would want to have a say in how their fees are spent,” Barnett said. “This is really an important year, too, because with so many changes financially, more specifically tuition and budgets, we should all know what’s going on.”
Tuition hikes and flexibility, budget cuts, and student-group funding are on tonight’s agenda for both tickets, and are sure to be the “hot topics” of the evening, according to event organizer Alex Schnell.
Higher education funding, sustainability and diversity are topics that rival presidential candidate Will Taylor from the Empower ticket hopes to discuss during the debate.
“I think we can expect higher voter turnout this year,” Taylor said. “But, ultimately, the fact that two strong tickets decided to run will have the largest impact.”
Another change in this year’s election was the decision to designate one of the three tri-executive positions as president, even though the position still will be elected as a three-person ticket.
CU’s student elections begin Monday and run all week.