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Oct. 20 events, poll, to focus on election

by Richard Veilleux - October 14, 2008


A day-long event focused on the presidential election and the major issues in the 2008 campaign will take place at UConn on Monday, Oct. 20. In addition to panel discussions on critical issues featuring faculty experts at both the Storrs and Stamford campuses, the University is also conducting a scientific public opinion poll of its undergraduates on their choice for president and the issues that are important to them as students.

All UConn undergrads have been invited to participate by visiting http://UVote2008.uconn.edu and entering their NetID and password. The survey takes under 10 minutes to complete and the answers are confidential.

“This poll will take the political temperature of UConn undergrads and give all of us a sense of what issues and concerns are on students’ minds,” says University President Michael J. Hogan.

A second, separate poll of residents in the Fairfield County-based 4th Congressional District on the competitive race between Chris Shays and Jim Himes will also be released on Oct. 20. In addition to questions on the election, the 4th District poll also covers the economic situation facing those living in Fairfield County and other issues.

The Storrs portion of the event will be held in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center’s Konover Auditorium from 9 a.m to 2:30 p.m. The four Storrs panel discussions are on: foreign policy and the approaches favored by presidential candidates Obama and McCain; race, gender, and age in the 2008 race for president; fairness and bias in the media during the campaign; and polling, politics, and the electorate this year.

The Stamford portion of the event, where the two polls will also be released, will feature a panel on the economy and current financial crisis in the context of the election. The Stamford program will run from 1 to 3 p.m.

“This year’s presidential election is historic in many ways and comes at a critical time for the nation,” says Hogan. “The surveys and the event on Oct. 20 are designed to illuminate views and also to spark discussion, providing an additional outlet for the excitement on campus surrounding the campaign. It’s important that our students – and all of us – be engaged in the electoral process.”

For a full schedule of events on both campuses, visit: http://news.uconn.edu/2008/opinion_poll_2008.php.

The panels will feature more than 20 different UConn faculty experts participating or moderating; journalists and media commentators such as Journal Inquirer managing editor Chris Powell, Hartford Courant columnists Kevin Rennie and Susan Campbell; former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons; the president of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce; and students.

Academic disciplines represented include: political science, sociology, history, law, journalism, women’s studies, business, and economics.

The panels will include discussion among the participants as well as questions and comments from the audience.

The symposium is sponsored by the University, UConn College Democrats, UConn College Republicans, the Department of Political Science, the Women’s Studies Program, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), and WHUS Radio.

“The students on this campus have no idea how much they are able to influence policy,” says Seamus Keating, external affairs chair for USG and co-chair of the UConn Votes Coalition, an umbrella organization of student groups working to register students and increase voter turnout.

“In 2006, we increased our turnout by 700 percent,” Keating says. “We made ourselves heard, not only statewide but nationally, with Congressman Joe Courtney’s election coming down to 83 votes.

With the state in an economic crisis, UConn students need to let their voices be heard for higher education, because it’s too easy for us to be overlooked if we don’t turn out and vote.”

The polls are being conducted by UConn’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis (CSRA), a non-partisan, non-profit survey research organization.

As part of the survey, students are asked to name their choice for president, identify the issues of greatest concern to them, say where and how they will be voting, what campaign activity, if any, they’ve participated in, and where they get their news on the race for president.

“It’s fair to say that younger voters may play a major role in selecting our next president, particularly if turnout is high in that age group,” says Christine Kraus, associate director of CSRA.

“We anticipate a positive response to the U Vote 2008 Survey, since the election has generated a lot of enthusiasm among college age voters.”

UConn has more than 20,000 undergraduates at Storrs and the regional campuses. All are being invited to participate in the survey.

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