Raymond Baccari & David Blais
News Editor & Asst. Sports Editor
Last semester, talks began from the state of Rhode Island pushing Rhode Island College as a state institution to become more involved with Rhode Island politics. Then-Anchor Staff Writer Raymond Baccari expressed how it could occur answering potential questions about the idea. Now as the 2022 election cycle is one year away, here is a formal outline of how this ambitious goal can be achieved next year.
President Frank Sánchez revealed during a RIC Council meeting that the state had reached out in regards to the institution’s involvement with state politics, thus opening the door for the college to potentially host the 2022 election debates.
The push for RIC to be involved in state politics goes even further than how the institution itself would play a role. By the time students enter RIC, they are old enough to vote in their first election cycle. This plays into one of the main benefits debates at RIC could have: The younger generation’s civic engagement in state politics.
Members of the RIC community have already expressed their interest in this idea with RIC Political Science Club President Mackenzie Raimond saying, “As a state institution, it can be beneficial to be aware of the different ways that politics has played a role in the foundation of RIC and the surrounding communities.”
Raimond further explained, “It would be great to see the 2022 debates take place at RIC. It would generate a wealth of exposure to the college, as well as highlight the importance of the college being involved in the civic process. Additionally, this would allow more students to be involved and more informed about state politics.”
Congressman Jim Langevin of Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District and a proud RIC alumnus himself also sees the gain from this opportunity saying, “State and local politics touch so many aspects of our lives. There are so many reasons for young people to care about every election on the ballot.”
Langevin continued, “It’s never been so important for young people to show up and get involved. You have a say in who represents your best interests, and that should never be taken lightly.”
The possibilities with a RIC-hosted debate are endless. If this were to happen, it should be student-ran by organizations like The Anchor, Student Community Government, Anchor TV, and WXIN.
The Anchor could be responsible for pre and post-event coverage, Student Community Government could organize and send out formal invitations to the candidates running for these elected offices, and Anchor TV and WXIN could be in charge of filming and streaming these debates. It’s also critical that the moderators for these debates are students that participate in these organizations
This idea of RIC hosting the 2022 debates is even supported by Langevin, “I would love for RIC to host one of the 2022 gubernatorial debates. RIC has a bright, engaged student body and it would be a great opportunity for students to watch a discussion of [the] state’s most pressing issues.”
His final thoughts on this are, “of course, as a proud alum, I love the idea of our elected officials, reporters, and Rhode Island voters spending time on our beautiful campus for a debate. Let’s make it happen!”
If Covid is still a concern with the debates being in-person, a remote option similar to how the ‘An Evening with Mayor Allan Fung’ was done last semester could be done. This was an event where RIC Student Community Government President David Blais and Former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung spoke virtually via zoom with a live stream supported by Anchor TV.
Other higher education institutions in the state were home to political debates as recently as the 2018 Gubernatorial debate, why not add RIC to that list?