For months, Hayden Panettiere has been the celebrity face for DeclareYourself.com, along with a number of other celebrities endorsing the site in order to encourage young voters to register. SHSU’s Program Council can now add its name to that list.
On Tuesday evening, the Program Council hosted a ‘Declare Yourself’ open forum in the Mafrige auditorium, following their day spent in the LSC mall area, helping students to register to vote on DeclareYourself.com.
The forum covered five hot-button topics that are crucial in the 2008 elections: healthcare, war in Iraq, education, immigration and poverty.
“We see healthcare as a right, not a privilege,” said Bearkat Democrats president Caleb White. White, along with vice president Kendall Scudder, answered questions and voiced their opinions concerning Sen. Barack Obama’s views.
“If you go to a hospital, you shouldn’t be turned away because you’re poor,” Scudder said.
Student Government Association vice-president Chris Yancy was a member of the panel, and represented the SGA as a non-partisan, explaining the views of either political candidate when needed.
“Whoever we do vote into office, I can guarantee you that the war will be at the top of their [priority] list,” Yancy said.
Although there was no Republican representative on the panel itself, Ramiro Jaime Jr. was in the audience, and defended Sen. John McCain’s views as they were brought up.
“The reason why we’re in Iraq is because it’s next to Afghanistan, and Saddam supported Afghanistan.If the war had been funded correctly, it would have been done a long time ago,” said Jaime Jr. He responded to questions from Democrats concerning the reason for the ongoing war, despite America’s original intention to capture Osama bin Laden.
Because the forum was for students, education was a topic that involved a lot of audience participation. Scudder spoke about Obama’s plan to give every college student 4000 dollars a year while attending a university, no matter what the student’s financial background is.
“As Democrats, we want to give every American a chance to climb up the ladder,” he said.
Yancy addressed McCain’s position on education by speaking about his plans to compensate recent graduates that go on to teach in low income schools.
“[McCain] believes that good teachers should be paid more than bad lawyers,” he said.
White closed the discussion by using a quote from Obama when he said that change does not happen starting at the top, but rather from the bottom up. He said that we, as students, are the bottom, and we can initiate the change. However, the only way to create change is to vote, but registration comes first.