Political discussion panel to inspire student voting

On Thursday, March 3, Western Carolina University’s Center for Service Learning and The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) are presenting ‘Intentional Conversations’, a panel discussion designed to get students excited about voting in North Carolina’s upcoming March 15 primary. The event will begin at 5 p.m. in the UC Theater.

According to Joanna Woodson, a WCU student who helped coordinate the event, Intentional Conversations will be a “town hall-esque” discussion, hopefully consisting of debate for all sides of the political spectrum.

“We are so excited about this event,” she said. “This is for students to learn the facts about things they care about.”

There will be three professors and three students speaking at the panel. They will be offering their own personal ideas on political factors that matter most to students today.

Associate Professor and Director of Political Science and Public Affairs, Todd Collins, via wcu.edu

Associate Professor and Director of Political Science and Public Affairs, Todd Collins, via wcu.edu

Jennifer Schiff, an assistant professor in the Political Science and Public Affairs Department, will be speaking, as well as Jeanne Dulworth, an assistant professor in the Social Work Department. The third speaker will be Cyndy Caravelis from the Criminal Justice Department.

Associate Professor and Director of Political Science and Public Affairs, Todd Collins, will be moderating the discussion panel.

“I hope that we will be able to open students’ minds to the facts of the matters they care about,” Woodson said.

The organizers are trying to create an unbiased atmosphere by inviting student representatives to speak from both the Democratic and Republican parties. They have yet to hear from the College Republicans.

The AGF, who is helping sponsor the event, is a nonpartisan affiliation. Woodson said this gives the event great potential to be a fair, impartial forum for student discussion on political matters.

The AGF was founded in 1966 in honor of Andy Goodman, a civil rights activist. According to the AGF website, at 20 years old Goodman was passionate about registering African-Americans to vote, so he joined Freedom Summer ’64. Shortly after, Goodman was murdered, along with two other civil rights workers, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi.

Today, the AGF strives to help communities flourish by investing in programs that expand civic engagement, like Intentional Conversations.

Andrew Goodman Foundation logo, via andrewgoodman.org

Andrew Goodman Foundation logo, via andrewgoodman.org

“I hope that [Intentional Conversations] will be a successful chance for students to hear a balanced side to each issue,” said Woodson.

She anticipates that hot topics for the panel will include foreign policy, prison reform and the Affordable Care Act.

Woodson said they are hoping to see 75-100 students present at the event. If students are interested in staying after the panel discussion for a more intimate and in-depth conversation, Woodson said they will head to the UC Multipurpose Room to talk further.

The Center for Service Learning’s main goal is to generate voter motivation with this event, and coordinators hope that students will be inspired by the debate and get out to vote in the March 15 primary.

Woodson is currently accepting requests for what WCU students want to hear about in the panel. If you’re interested, please contact Woodson at jwoodson1@catamount.wcu.edu to offer your suggestion before March 3.