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Bipartisan event speakers call for student involvement in politics

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Panelists speak at a bipartisan town hall meeting to address voting issues in Ohio at the Ohio Union Oct. 15.<br />Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Panelists speak at a bipartisan town hall meeting to address voting issues in Ohio at the Ohio Union Oct. 15.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

A discussion was held Tuesday to inspire Ohio State students to help change the current state of politics.

A bipartisan town hall meeting to address voting issues in Ohio was held at the Ohio Union Tuesday. Panelists, including former Ohio governors, secretaries of state, U.S. representatives and a Yale University law professor, focused on dispelling partisanship and encouraging young people to take part in the political process.

During the event, Victoria Kennedy, co-founder of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, which aims to incite public discourse and encourage participation in democracy, said it is imperative for the government to keep young people involved in the political process.

“It’s young people who are going to lead the way and get us out of this mess. Young people who are going to change the dialogue, run for office and show us the way to heal,” she said.

Former Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland echoed her sentiment and emphasized the importance of students working to become citizens of the world.

“If (students) see those opportunities to have that kind of engagement, it will lead them to vote and be actively engaged in the political process,” he said in an interview with BuckeyeTV after the event.

Some OSU students attended the event in person or followed along using social media sites such as Twitter. People had the opportunity to tweet at panelists with questions, but the discussion made some students want to go beyond the 140 characters.

“As a student, as a young person, I want to see as many people as possible registered and involved in the political process (as possible),” said Steven Mahr, a second-year in political science and economics, during an intermission. “Coming here today and watching these events, I feel I want to take action.”

The town hall event, held by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform in partnership with OSU and USA Today , was held the same day a USA TODAY article about a USA Today/Bipartisan Policy Center Poll in which the majority of Americans said they support lessening extreme partisanship was published. Panelists used the town hall platform to talk to Ohioans in attendance about problems plaguing the swing state specifically, including voter ID fraud and voter access.

Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp said during the event’s intermission that students have been experiencing some of these issues firsthand as a committee of students has worked to register voters in support of the Columbus City Schools levy, which aims to increase city school funding to provide more resources for students.

“These are all huge issues for college students so it’s really great that we’re having this discussion here at Ohio State,” Stepp said.

Strickland said, though, the changes that could be made on a state or national level, however, remain yet to be decided upon.

“We talked about a lot of difficult issues today. I’m not sure we came up with any specific answers to these large problems, but I think it’s important to have this kind of dialogue,” Strickland said after the event.

 

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: Oct. 16, 2013

An earlier version of this story stated the town hall event was held jointly by OSU and USA Today when the event was in fact held by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform while OSU and USA Today were partners in the event.

2 comments

  1. This town meeting by the Bipartisan Policy Center was excellent. Not only did I learn a lot, but it also instilled much hope that the gridlock in our country which is reflected in the current state of affairs in Washington can be overcome by men and women of good conscience.

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