As the next Republican presidential primary debate at the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder draws closer, a student organization fighting for representation at the debate is highlighting the fact that young people will not be able to attend.
A millennial-run news network based in Colorado called Be Heard TV is partnering with CU students, and is prepared to hold their own broadcast outside the debate venue if students are not allowed inside.
“We’re aiming to have our own live broadcast during the debate, in which we will discuss the issues facing our generation and nation,” said Aaron Estevez-Miller in an email to Red Alert Politics. Estevez-Miller is a student at CU Boulder and the coordinating director of the Student Voices Count group.
“We are concerned with the increasing intersectionality between politics and entertainment, and the disengagement of millennials from the political process,” Estevez-Miller said, “We recognize the rights of the organizations involved to exclude students, but we believe they will realize such a course of action is not in their best interests.”
According to ABC 7 News, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), has sent letters to CNBC, the RNC, and the chancellor of CU Boulder, urging all of them to allow more student involvement in the debate.
CU Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano addressed the issue in a statement released on Friday.
“Over the past two weeks, our campus community has been energized by some great discussions and student activism regarding ticket allotments for the upcoming Republican presidential candidate debate,” Chancellor DiStefano said.
DiStefano explained that when the university agreed to host the debate, they were allotted 50 tickets. In August, the university requested more tickets from the RNC and were provided with a total of 100 tickets.
“This is not a public event designed to accommodate the maximum number of spectators, this is a TV broadcast created and produced by CNBC with what amounts to a thousand-person studio audience,” he said. “The network needs room for an extensive stage set-up, lighting, cameras and other equipment. It’s not the same layout as hosting a basketball game.”
DiStefano further explained that the university is attempting to engage students in the debate, despite the limited number of tickets. The school’s International Affairs program will hold a seminar to give students a better understanding of global topics that may come up during the debate, and CNBC journalists covering the event will hold classroom discussions with students ahead of the debate. The CU student government will also host a watch party of the event in the University Memorial Center.
“Those who say that the 18- to 24-year-old demographic doesn’t care about politics or the future of our country are obviously not talking about CU-Boulder students,” DiStefano added.
Estevez-Miller said he appreciated the chancellor’s efforts to engage students, but said the group would continue to fight for more student tickets.
“We respectfully call on the RNC, CNBC, and CU to issue a number of tickets more representative of the 30,000-plus members of the university community, and to discuss with us how to best engage the student body,” Estevez-Miller said.
CNBC will be broadcasting the “Your Money, Your Vote” debate on the economy at CU Boulder on Oct. 28th at the Coors’ Events Center.
CU alumnus Carl Quintanilla, of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” program, will be one of the debate moderators. According to the Boulder Daily Camera, Quintanilla graduated CU Boulder in 1993 with a degree in political science.