Presidential Debate: 400 students will watch together & survey opinions

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KINGSTON, R.I., Oct. 3, 2012 – More than 400 University of Rhode Island students will not only watch the first, presidential debate together on campus tonight, they will answer polling questions via handheld technology to gauge their preferences both before and after the primetime appearance of the U.S. presidential candidates.

Students from several political science courses, including an introductory class to American government and a new course specifically on the presidential election and campaign, will gather in Chafee 271 at 8:30 p.m., a half hour before the televised debate begins.

“They will be asked several questions about the candidates and their positions on the issues,” said URI Political Science Professor, author, and political commentator Maureen Moakley. “We will find out if the debates themselves have changed anybody’s perspective on the candidates.”

The results will be shared instantly with the group. Moakley said engaging students about politics and having them actively interact with one another is a constructive way to teach.

“I tell my students all the time that when they are older, they may not remember this course but what they will remember of their experience at URI is coming and participating in this debate,” Moakley said.

The first of three presidential debates scheduled before Election Day, tonight’s debate will be held at the University of Denver in Colorado and focus exclusively on domestic issues.

The URI event is free and open to the public.