Tuesday, October 2, 2012
November 6 is not an ordinary Tuesday in 2012. It’s decision day — Election Day — in the United States. Voters will have plenty to consider regarding the future course from local, state and national perspectives.
At the University of San Diego, Nov. 6 will hold special meaning. It’ll be a culmination of opportunities that the campus community’s voters have had to become better informed about making their decision.
To provide a helpful, open and educational environment, Political Science Associate Professor Casey Dominguez and two colleagues — professors Gary Gray and Avi Spiegel — will moderate televised presidential debate watch parties on Oct. 3, 16, 22 and an Oct. 11 vice president debate from 5:30-8 p.m. at USD. Furthermore, on Oct. 16, faculty members will host a nonpartisan review of the 10 California propositions on the fall ballot.
“We really want to try and create neutral and nonpartisan ways for people to learn about the choices that face them,” Dominguez said. “We really hope people take advantage of it.”
There will also be an event, “Our Decision: Women & Election 2012″ on Oct. 29, 6 p.m. in Mother Rosalie Hill Hall’s Warren Auditorium, that looks at the election in regard to women candidates and women’s issues that have been brought up during the campaign. Faculty members from different departments will offer their thoughts.
On Nov. 6, USD’s Degheri Alumni Center (rooms 112/113) will serve as an official polling place — for all USD residence hall students who are registered voters — and UC Forums A and B will be an election night results viewing party location from 4 to 10 p.m. The latter is co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Associated Students and the USD Changemaker Hub.
Dominguez teaches American Politics, including courses this fall centered on campaigns and elections and the presidency. Having the classes during an election year heightens the learning process for her students, but the extracurricular events — she’s hosted previous election events in 2008 and 2010 at USD — can enhance everyone’s participation and knowledge.
“It’s an opportunity for civic education, to help the people who might be interested, but don’t know quite where to start looking for who they want to vote for. This gives them the opportunity to think about it, to hear others talk about it and to see that civic participation is fun, cool and it’s an important thing to be involved in,” she said.
Dominguez will moderate the first Obama-Romney debate party this Wednesday and the Oct. 11 VP debate. Williams will moderate the Oct. 16 Town Hall-style debate while Spiegel and Milburn Line, executive director for the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, will moderate the Oct. 22 debate focused on foreign policy. Pizza will be available at each viewing party.
The California propositions discussion on Oct. 16 should be very interesting as topics such as the death penalty, human trafficking, tax initiatives and genetically engineered foods labeling are all on the ballot. Dominguez and several colleagues will examine each proposition.
“The ballot book is thick, it’s complicated and it’s not written in a way that the casual reader will necessarily pick up on the subtleties … and what are the effects of each to really be,” she said. “We want to try to distill that for people. I know that when they’ve come in the past, they’ve walked away feeling they know how they’re going to vote. That isn’t because we’ve told them how to vote, but because we’ve explained the issue in a way that helps them to see what they think about it.”
Another key aspect of USD’s election awareness, Dominguez said, is for students to understand their specific vote registration information, especially deadlines for those living out-of-state, outside San Diego or first-time voters. The USD website has a page devoted to registration information, frequently asked questions and more. The deadline for Californians to register to vote is Oct. 22.
“These are formative year for college students, when voting becomes a habit,” Dominguez said. “This is one of those times when you can really learn about the process of voting and establish a habit that will probably last the rest of your life.”
— Ryan T. Blystone