Malik James '18 and Angela Tona '17 of Nazareth College were among a select group of college students chosen as delegates in the College Debate 2016, a national initiative to use social media and technology to engage students in the 2016 presidential debates and election, focusing on the issues, not the candidates. The Nazareth students contributed to a national, student-led conversation around the key issues that resonate with younger voters.
This first-of-its-kind initiative was created by Dominican University of California, a Voter Education Partner of the Commission on Presidential Debates. College Debate 2016 drew on technology and social media to generate discussion of issues important to students, and to bring those issues to the attention of the moderators of the Presidential Debates in the fall.
The delegates attended the 2016 College Convention on September 6-7. The event provided a forum for focused discussion on national youth issues. The culminating event included a 90-minute moderated Town Hall meeting, which was streamed live to delegates’ home campuses across the country.
The final product was a memo to the moderators of the 2016 Presidential Debates that contains five specific questions the College Delegates want the candidates to address. Malik James ‘18 of Nazareth College (pictured at right in the purple shirt | courtesy: College Debate 2016 Facebook page), a legal studies major who worked for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office last summer, had his question selected by the delegation on the topic of social justice/civil rights. James asked, “What will you do to reduce the recidivism and mass incarceration rates in communities where poverty and violence are prevalent?”(Watch Malik ask his question at the town hall here)
The programming was aimed at promoting civil discourse, understanding responsible digital citizenry, and avoiding stereotypes and assumptions while focusing on the issues rather than party politics. As Sybil Brown, a Belmont University journalism professor who moderated the event said recently in the Marin Independent Journal, “There are 69 million millennials who are eligible to vote, so they are an important population to pay attention to.”
Nazareth College's academic strengths cross an unusually broad spectrum of 60 majors, including education, health and human services, management, the fine arts, music, theater, math and science, foreign languages, and the liberal arts. The coeducational, religiously independent, classic campus in a charming suburb of Rochester, N.Y. challenges and supports 2,000 undergrads and 800 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life's work.