MU student groups sponsored a voter education panel to discuss issues relevant to college students Tuesday evening in Waters Auditorium at MU.
Panelists represented the Republican and Democratic national committees as well as the College Democrats and College Republicans. The event, organized by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, also provided an opportunity for students to register to vote.
Byron Whitmore, of Alpha Phi Alpha, helped to organize the panel. He said the goal was to address issues that are particularly relevant to students — like college tuition, assault weapons and job opportunities after graduation — and to give students the opportunity to become educated before they visit the polls.
“You give them the opportunity to make an educated decision when they go to the polls instead of just voting for who their parents are voting for or based on what they see on TV,” Whitmore said. “If they can get it straight from the horse’s mouth, it helps them understand what they’re voting for and why they’re voting this way.”
Patrice Hutton, an MU student who attended the event, said she didn’t know anything about the election races before hearing the panel.
“I really don’t have any idea what’s going on in politics or the campaigns,” she said. “I want to vote, but I don’t think it’s fair to if you don’t know what’s going on.”
This November will be Hutton’s first time voting in a national election.
Fanna Haile, another MU student, said she thought she already knew something about politics.
“I feel pretty educated, and when it’s time to make my decision, I’ll definitely be (educated),” Haile said. “I was interested in finding out about some of the issues and more about how this school’s getting out the vote.”
College Democrats’ president Caleb Lewis said he thinks college students are more knowledgeable about politics now than before past elections.
“You see more activity now than in past years, but there’s always more to be learned,” he said.
Lewis also said he was hopeful that the event was attended by some students who weren’t already interested in politics.
“It seems like the people who tend to show up to things like this are informed, but I don’t think you can ever be too informed,” Lewis said.