A tweet wall at the Baker Center’s debate screening allowed students to see their fellow classmates’ opinions in real-time Tuesday evening.
Morgan Chance, Baker Center Ambassador, said that the screenings have allowed students to voice their opinions on the election.
The Baker Center has increased student involvement in the presidential election through screening two of the three debates, registering students to vote, and becoming an early voting location.
Baker Scholar Alina Clay stated, “The screenings at the Baker Center are really beneficial for students here on campus because they provide a ready outlet for students to participate in the broad political processes. Having the screenings here and the student events that we do here to learn about the political process and learn about elections are so critical because it brings the issue to us.”
The screenings have given students a way to build their own beliefs upon facts instead of basing their opinions on things they see while flipping through mass media outlets.
According to Clay, students are beginning to realize the importance of their own involvement in the current election issues. “When candidates say controversial things, students can see these things and hold the candidates accountable.”
The debate screenings held at the center were nonpartisan, or political-party neutral.
UTK grad student Ann Harik stated that, ” I do think it’s helpful that the debates are shown on campus, and I do think it’s helpful that it’s nonpartisan. I think a lot of students feel like their voice doesn’t matter, and we need to remind them that their vote matters.”
The Baker Center also helps students register to vote and is a site of early voting for this election. Registered voters will be able to come to the center to vote early Oct. 31st-Nov. 3rd.
Nissa Dahlin-Brown, Associate Director of the Baker Center, said that close to 2,500 students registered to vote at the center in a competition with the University of Florida to see which university could register more students to vote. UTK won despite the fact that UF has a significantly larger campus population than UTK, with UF having a population of nearly 50,000 students.
According to Dahlin-Brown, the student-organized Voterpalooza and mock debate helped to spread awareness about the upcoming early voting period. The center is also using outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to remind students about the opportunity to vote early.