What if youth voters could have their voices heard by the next President of the United States?
Harrison Preddy, a junior political science major and economy minor at NC State, recently participated in College Debate 2016 to answer this question. The program describes itself as a national, non-partisan initiative to empower young voters to identify issues and engage peers in the presidential election. After months of debates, the program achieved its goal of developing questions for moderators to ask at the presidential debates.
The delegates represented 150 college campuses and had diverse political backgrounds. They first met in June at Dominican University and narrowed down their focus topics to social justice/civil rights, immigration, education, income inequality and economy, and foreign policy.
After discussing strategies at the initial convention, the delegates increased political involvement at their colleges and universities by using social media and technology. Preddy addressed political inactivity on campus by reaching out to all campus organizations, regardless of political affiliation. By working together, Preddy hopes to increase voter registration and participation at NC State.
During the second College Debate convention in September, Preddy was chosen by his fellow delegates to represent them as a panelist for the income inequality and economy topic at a televised town hall event. He and the other delegates determined one final question for each topic that will be asked at the presidential debates.
“It is very rare that you have an occurrence where Republicans and Democrats can sit down and have a discussion about a topic in a civil manner,” Preddy said. “We don’t see compromise as a weakness; we see it as a progressive step.” College Debate 2016 demonstrated to Preddy that youth voters are informed, active and successful in the political process when their voices are heard.
Without his experiences in and out of the classroom at NC State, Preddy said he would not have been prepared to be a delegate or panelist.
“The lectures have taught me how to think critically and debate professionally,” Preddy said. “I’ve learned all areas of politics, especially foreign policy and current events.”
Preddy looks forward to his future involvement in politics now that he has a strong foundation from College Debate 2016 and his experience at NC State.