Senate forum provides rare opportunity



Column by Taylor Moak

Students are rarely given the opportunity to meet with a candidate before an election.

However, Wednesday at 11 a.m. all 10 candidates for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat will be on campus to participate in a “Forum for Higher Education.”

The Discovery Seminar Program course: “Citizen Kentucky: Journalism and Democracy” I am enrolled in helped organize the event and I encourage all students to stop by.

All 10 of the candidates have been invited to participate and students will have the opportunity to meet the candidates and talk to them about issues they feel are important.

The forum begins at 11 a.m. by the Student Center Patio with a Civic Information Fair. Candidates and several campus organizations will have tables set up so students can ask questions and pick up information and campaign items.

At 11:30 a.m., candidates will enter a “lightning round” of introductions moderated by journalism professor Buck Ryan, who teaches the seminar.

Candidates will be asked three questions. “Who are you?,” “Why are you running?,” and “Why should we vote for you?”

With the May 18 primary election a little more than a month away, time is running down on deciding who to vote for. With so many people running for the seat in Washington, the forum Wednesday can help students come to a decision. For the first time in Kentucky’s history there have been contested primaries for both Republicans and Democrats.

In class, we analyzed research from last semester’s DSP and found four key factors in a young person’s coming to a decision.

Personal contact, perception of a candidate in a public forum, passion about issues pertinent to students and willingness of a candidate to appear at public events round out the list.

I know from personal experience that what a candidate looks like on their Web site can be much different from what they are like in person. By meeting all on the candidates in person, students will be better able to form their own opinions.

Moreover, this forum will focus on higher education. As such, students can hear what the candidates have to say about their views on higher education and what they may do as senator to keep it affordable enough for students.

I encourage students to come for more reasons than being in the class that is sponsoring it.

For one, this forum will provide students the opportunity to learn more about all of the candidates.

Secondly, one of the candidates at the forum on Wednesday will be elected to office in November and it will be neat to say that you meet them in person.

Finally, (and most importantly to some),  free food.

My classmates also encourage other students to come.

“This is the most important senator election in the history of Kentucky,” said Sam Forman, an architecture freshman. “And college students have the fate of the state in their hands!”

“You should go because (civic education) matters,” William Baldon, a journalism freshman, said.

The forum is sponsored by the Discovery Seminar Program, UK Student Government and the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center.