Both presidential campaigns have made it clear just how important this election season is, and in the following month the CIVITAS program is planning to make that message clear to students through numerous special events designed to allow students a greater opportunity to understand the issues being discussed and to have their voices heard.
“The whole point of CIVITAS is to develop civic education,” CIVITAS teacher and coordinator Linda Reed said. “When we get knowledge, we like to pass it on to others.”
The events in the coming month include a forum on October 5th to discuss Propositions 30, 32, and 35, a forum on October 9th to discuss Proposition 34, a forum on October 16th to discuss the national presidential campaigns, a community forum to discuss Propositions 30 and 38 as well as district Measure N on October 16th, and finally a mock election to be held in the small gym on October 19th where students will use authentic voting machines and ballots.
All of the events were coordinated and organized by CIVITAS students as their senior projects.
The October 16th forum on the national presidential campaign, a panel discussion featuring two Republicans and two Democrats with a question and answer period, is Noah Lightman’s senior project.
Also on the 16th there will be another senior project on voters education put on by senior Sabine Wilson. It will be located in the Large Gym and will take place between 6-8 p.m.
“We are current and future voters,” Lightman said. “We need to understand what issue areas are being discussed.”
The forum will focus on four issues in particular: the economy, health care, the environment, and the Iranian threat.
Reed has noticed that in this election season, her CIVITAS students are more interested in state elections than four years ago.
“Last time around, they were interested in the national election more,” she said.
Nevertheless, Reed hopes that all of October’s events will help increase student interest in and involvement in the political process.
“How can students make decisions about who’s in charge of them if they’re not involved in the political process?” Reed said. “You can’t complain if you don’t vote.”
Nevertheless, among those students who are in the know, the variety of opinions regarding this year’s elections are as diverse as the student population.
“I support Romney because President Obama hasn’t done well with the economy,” said senior James Villanueva, President of the Rio Americano Young Republicans. “A major issue people are going to be looking at is the economy. We’re headed in the wrong direction.”
“The Republican candidate doesn’t represent the needs of the American people,” said junior Arianna Sue, President of the Rio Americano Young Democrats. “His economic plans are unfair.”
“I’m not sure who I’d vote for,” said CIVITAS student freshman Lourdes Dizon.
“There’s so much Romney is doing that I don’t like, but Obama didn’t give us a good four years. It doesn’t matter who’s elected president, it’s going to be the same in four years.”
In what has been referred to as one of the most negative election seasons in recent history, the negative commercials have been having an effect. However, it may not be the effect that the campaigns originally envisioned.
“They’re using small information for big problems,” sophomore Aaron Boulger said.
Reed sees the election, however, as a chance to further the goals of the CIVITAS program.
“We’re expanding the community through civic involvement.”