DENVER (KDVR) — The race to the finish line is well underway for candidates in political races across the state. In addition to the ads you’ve seen in the past few months, you’ll start to see more candidates discussing various media formats.
Members of a key voting demographic say they felt left out of debate discussions.
So, with the help of their school, they took matters into their own hands.
‘Solutions Studio’ gives an alternative to the debate
“It’s really more of a dialogue. There is no audience. There are just the students, the candidates and a moderator,” said John Masserini, dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
MSU Denver is doing things a little differently this election season by launching a debate alternative called “Solutions Studio.” The new forum format features a series of recorded discussions with a panel of MSU students who have the opportunity to interact with candidates one-on-one.
“Is there so much drama in Washington DC that nobody listens to each other, nobody interacts with each other, nobody finds the middle ground or the solution to the problem?” asked Brian Bartholomew, an MSU student panelist.
The goal is for students on the panel, like Bartholomew, to get to the bottom of where the candidates stand on the solutions. Like the MSU student population, the panel is made up of diverse students, each curious about their own set of concerns.
“I am a deaf person. Yes, I know how to sign. I know how to talk. The reason I’m very involved is because everything I do is the Americans (with) Disabilities Act. Without that act, I wouldn’t be able to break down the barriers,” Bartholomew said.
Ganahl, O’Dea, Bennet will participate
Some of the panelists are from indigenous groups, others are first-generation students or DACA recipients. While students talk to candidates about hot topics like abortion and affordability, Bartholomew wants to know how lawmakers will enforce the ADA and make his life more affordable in the future.
“That’s why I’m on the panel to ask, OK, what are the politicians going to do for me? Because, on the way, I’m terrified,” said Bartholomew speaking about the disparities faced by people with disabilities.
This is the university’s first year doing this, but they are already thinking about doing it for the next political cycle.
Heidi Ganahl, Joe O’Dea and Michael Bennett are ready to get in on this. The forums will debut next week on the university’s website.
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