Anchor Staff Writer
In election cycles, one of the best parts is arguably the debates. Political debates are highly anticipated in an election cycle and can create the most buzz for that election. Local news stations like WPRI host the debates for the races of gubernatorial, senatorial, congressional and mayoral elections. However, I believe 2022 should be the start of something that not only is possible but has a lot of benefits for all parties involved -- Rhode Island College should host the debates for the 2022 elections.
How could this be done? There are multiple ways of going about it. If COVID-19 is still a lingering issue, then there are options of virtual debates and/or in-person, no-crowd socially distanced debates as they were done in the 2020 elections.
In a scenario where COVID-19 is no longer a threat come late spring/fall of 2022, then here are propositions for a RIC hosted debate reality:
The goal would be to get one debate out of each major local election (the Gubernatorial, Lieutenant Gubernatorial, Secretary of State, Attorney General, General Treasurer and Providence Mayoral elections).
If these were town-hall-styled debates, that is where the true benefits of RIC hosting these debates come in. It could be held at either the Murray Center (sectioned off) or the auditorium in Roberts Hall. The RIC students in attendance could come up with questions based on what their concerns are as voters. Questions would of course be screened in advance to ensure they are tough but fair questions. The format would be traditional with opening statements, questions based on the current issues, a rapid-fire section somewhere in the middle or near the end and then closing statements.
It would/should be student-run with organizations such as Student Community Government, Anchor TV, The Anchor, WXIN and the Political Science Club working together. It would be live-streamed on YouTube given the technical capabilities Anchor TV has. Student Community Government and the Political Science Club could reach out to these candidates/campaigns with formal invitations, as they have with the likes of Mayor Allan Fung for a Q&A event scheduled for March 5. Then the moderators could be members of The Anchor and or WXIN who have a big interest in journalism and politics.
How could this benefit RIC and all the parties involved? Civic engagement and education would be in full effect from the students involved in planning the debates all the way to those watching the debate. RIC gets publicity, the candidates get a chance to get their message out to the voters, the students running this debate get invaluable experiences and this opens up the door for RIC to host future election debates. The overall goal would be for these to be RIC/student-oriented, but the possibility of these getting local media attention would be welcomed with open arms. RIC’s student media organizations like The Anchor and WXIN would promote this, there could be posters posted up. The possibilities are endless.
A lot of colleges like Emerson College and Quinnipiac University do polls that are used when determining who qualifies for debates in multi-candidate elections. Why not have RIC do our own polling for these debates? Ideas like this have the potential to make RIC stand out and take on something as incredible as debates for the elections to come. RIC is a fantastic school and if this were to become a reality, I know RIC would be able to do this well. Getting the idea out there may just very well be the first steps needed to make this a reality.