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ISSUE 116 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/13/2002

Dinners provide discussion

By Julie Gunderson
News Editor

Friday, September 13, 2002

Political ads are being broadcast in rapid fire this campaign season. Candidates’ faces are plastered on posters, billboards, and brochure covers.

This year the college’s Political Awareness Committee (PAC) is giving students a chance to sort through this political madness and learn about the people and issues of the upcoming election season.

PAC’s weekly dinners on Tuesday from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Valhalla Room will feature political candidates from various parties who are running for local, state, and national offices.

Students and faculty are invited to bring their dinners and join in the dialogue with the politicians.

"This year’s focus with the dinners is to get students informed about the different races that are going on," PAC coordinator Lauren Topel said.

U.S. congressional candidate John Kline is scheduled for Oct. 8 and his opponent Bill Luther will be at the Oct. 15 dinner.

"These dinners are a great way for students to get all the facts," said Britt Haugland, PAC’s coordinating director of the dinners. "It’s a much better way for students to get informed, rather than just watching a 30-second ad on TV or just voting the way that your parents do. Students can get their questions answered directly and hear what the candidates have to say."

The committee will also be involved in a variety of other election activities, including voter registration drives and providing bus rides for those students living in Hillboe, Kittelsby, and certain honor houses who are not allowed to vote at the college’s polling place.

A particular focus of the committees will be on increasing student voter registration.

"Our goal with the registration drives is to cut down on the long lines come election day," Topel said. "The registration process is pretty easy, but it can hold up lines when students have to register before filling out their ballot."

The committee is still working on confirming speakers to visit the campus.

Past committees have brought speakers such as Ben Stein, Janet Reno, and John Stossel to the college.

An international perspective is the scheduled for this interim.

The committee, with the help of Political Science Department Chair, Dan Hofrenning is working to bring speakers with international experience on campus during interim.

Former Ambassador to Rwanda, Bob Flaten, is tentatively scheduled to be a part of the program.

Flaten will also teach a class during the interim session.

The goals of this year’s PAC committee remain similar to those in the past. "Past PAC committees have done a great job, and we just hope to continue to get students involved in politics and to highlight the issues for them so they can make informed decisions when they vote," Topel said.

The presence of the election year makes educating and registering voters even a more important task for the committee.

"We hope that the dinners will be beneficial to students and let them gain good insight to the candidates," Topel said.

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