Student panel to discuss election issues

With all the talk about presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, students may be missing out on the propositions that will be on the ballot this November.

To conquer this elusiveness, USU (University Student Union) will be hosting a panel discussion today that will allow crusaders of each topic to argue their viewpoints and challenge the opposition. The panel will take place in USU 312 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Dalitso Ruwe, who is coordinating the event for USU, said this discussion will incorporate the ideas of Republicans, Democrats and members of several clubs on and off campus.

“Hopefully we can push it to the limit to get students more concerned about these issues,” Dalitso said. “Education is important right now, especially when you think about the budget cuts going on.”

Ruwe said he asked the panelists to think of themselves as presidential advisors, but the discussion will be less concerned with the candidates themselves because of potentially perceived biases that might come against the university.

“We started off trying to attack presidential issues, but that raised red flags about endorsing candidates,” Ruwe said.

Panel prepared for proposition pros, cons

Today’s panel will not mirror the typical rhetoric heard in most political discussions. Not only will the speakers be asked to divulge both the strengths and weaknesses of their particular proposition, but their topics will be selected for them.

While they may favor one side or the other, they must come prepared to share the pros and cons of their assigned proposition.

A moderator will ask the panelists three basic questions: What stance are they taking on the proposition, why they feel the way they do about it and how much money would be allocated if their views were approved by voters.

Pedro Ramirez, president of Students for Barack Obama on campus, will be discussing the merits of Proposition 10, the California Alternative Fuels Initiative. Ramirez said it the proposition is really an addition to the Clean Alternative Energy Act of 2006.

“It’ll basically renew our energy program, our energy policy and basically renew the economy in California,” Ramirez said, adding that, “it’ll cost a lot of money to renew that infrastructure of the state from gas oriented to an alternative energy infrastructure.”

He said that the benefits of Proposition 10, which offers certain rebates to drivers of high fuel economy and alternative energy vehicles, would outweigh the costs. The costs he mentioned were the $700 billion for energy that is currently going to aid foreign countries that don’t like the U.S. very well anyways.

Oliver Darcy, vice president of the College Republicans, UC Merced Chapter, will speak in opposition to Proposition 7, which would require California utilities to procure half their power from renewable energy resources by 2025.

He said the proposition caters to big businesses like PG&E which will “take out most of the small businesses because the big companies are gonna be forced to do it.”

Most of the discussion today will revolve around the controversial Propositions 4 and 8. A “yes” on Prop. 4 will amend the California Constitution insisting on parental notification before the termination of a minor’s pregnancy. A “yes” on Prop. 8 will amend the constitution to validate marriage only between a man and a woman.

Public encouraged to participate

Ruwe said the panel is open to the public, but urged that it would help to come with some understanding of the issues that they can bring into the discussion. He added that while the audience may express their opinions, he requested that the panelists be a little more impartial with the associations they are linked to.

“I asked them to be objective,” Ruwe said. “They can’t endorse anybody at all, but everything else is fair game. But you can’t attack anybody.”

Representatives of ASI will open up the panel with a brief explanation of the propositions and as always, provide voter registration forms and material about the upcoming election.

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