BROWN-WHITMAN FACE TO FACE: 'A major plus for the campus'
September 28, 2010
By Dave Jones
The Department of Political Science already teaches such courses as Basic Concepts in Political Theory, California State Government and Politics, and the Strategy of Politics.
Today, the university adds a one-day seminar, Live from UC Davis: The First Gubernatorial Debate of 2010, putting the campus and its faculty and students at the center of the state’s political stage.
The hubbub has amped up the campus conversation, in and out of classrooms, about the contest between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman. And, now, as Brown and Whitman prepare to debate in our own front yard, even more people in the campus community are taking note of the pending election.
Come debate day, said junior Lance Kwan, majoring in environmental science and management, “a lot of students will realize the election is close and (that) they need to get out and vote.”
Budget: Less than $70,000
For all this, the university's expenses come to about $70,000 — with UC Davis paying about $45,000 and its co-sponsors, KCRA-TV, The Sacramento Bee and Capital Public Radio, chipping in about $8,000 each. The co-sponsors also are paying expenses of their own: KCRA-TV is building a set and televising the debate, The Bee is running free ads and Capitol Public Radio is broadcasting from the Mondavi Center all day.
“It's a major plus for the campus,” said Larry Berman, political science professor and founding director of the UC Washington Center.
And if anyone brings up the money, he is quick to reply: “Would Harvard be asking these questions about cost? This is one of the reasons we exist — the bridge from academia to public policy."
Indeed, in advance of the debate, Berman is among three campus academics who are due to participate in a Debate Watch Forum, a noontime event that is free and open to the public. The forum sponsors are the Institute of Governmental Affairs, the UC Center Sacramento, the School of Law and the UC Davis News Service.
Tonight, hundreds of students and others are expected to gather for viewing parties around the campus — that is, if they did not score a ticket, via lottery, to attend the debate in person.
KCRA recruited a dozen students to work on the Truth Team, which will instantly check facts as the debate goes on. See separate story.
'An educational moment for UC Davis'
“I think this is an educational moment for UC Davis,” said Terese Hubbard, a junior who is majoring in international relations and sociology. “I am planning on attending a viewing party to watch the debate with other UC Davis students. It’s exciting for me because I want to get into local politics.”
With the debate taking place on campus, some students are more likely to watch. Senior Seth Lustyan, majoring in biochemistry and economics, said: “I do feel more inclined to watch the debate. I need to know who to vote for.
“If the debate were not on campus, I would vote, but I would be a lot less informed because I probably would not have watched the debate.”
Robert Huckfeldt, political science professor and director of the Institute of Governmental Affairs and the UC Center Sacramento, said: “One of the primary purposes of a public university is to train succeeding generations of citizens in the exercise of citizenship.
“If the campus sits on the sideline when major public issues and choices are being played out, we do not fulfill our duties. Our goal is never to tell students what they should think, but rather to encourage their meaningful engagement in the process. Anything we can do to capture their attention is well worth the effort.”
Of the university's $70,000 in expenses, more than a third is going to extra security. Other major expenses are $16,782 to rent the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, $12,000 to bring in portable cellular antenna, $2,400 for webcasting and $1,282 to set up portable toilets around Vanderhoef Quad, in front of the Mondavi Center.
Dateline intern Nicole Nguyen contributed to this report.
More about the debate
The university's debate website, which includes videos of the debate and the Debate Watch Forum
And another debate next week
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