CMU students in mock U.S. election debate

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Students in a win –win situation as they learn debating skills

Chiang Mai University Political Science students took on new roles on Tuesday, March 15 as Republican and Democrat candidates in a mock U.S. election debate at the Uniserv building. Outside the debate room was a comprehensive display on the electoral process in the United States presidential campaign; covering everything from primaries to the Electoral College. Inside was a room full of enthusiastic supporters sporting campaign stickers cheering for their favorite candidates.

The Dean of the Political Science and Public Administration Faculty Dr. Ora-orn Poocharoen reminded students that the debate was being held for three key reasons; to raise awareness and increase understanding of the U.S. election process, to learn how to debate and obtain the skill sets to do a debate in English. Finally she said it educated students and the general public about “the importance of understanding international relations and international affairs and how that affects our daily lives.”

Dean Dr. Ora-orn Poocharoen (4th left), U.S. Consul General Michael Heath (center) and U.S. Consul on Political and Economic Affairs Jennifer Barnes-Kerns are joined by representatvies from the American Corner at the CMU Library, consular staff and faculty at the opening of the Mock Debate.

U.S Consul – General Michael Heath opened the event reminding students that this debate was an important part of the political process and noted that even though some of the debaters didn’t necessarily support the positions they were arguing that it gave them a good look into the debate process and may open their eyes to other viewpoints.

U.S. Consul on Political and Economic Affairs Jennifer Barnes-Kerns and ), U.S. Consul General Michael Heath before the start of the debates.

He said, “The purpose of this is to provide you with a forum to discuss issues that we discuss ourselves during the election season.” He noted that important primaries were being held that night and added that it would not determine the exact winner but go a long way towards knowing who were the leading candidates.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have some very eloquent Chiang Mai University students representing the Democrat Party and the Republican Party here today”, the U.S. Consul General said as he opened the debate. He continued, “We want to stress that when these students come up to give you their opinions, these are not necessarily their own opinions but they’ve been asked to provide what they think a candidate for the Democrat Party or a candidate for the Republican Party might present on a certain issue. And of course we must realize that even our own parties also have many differences between them; the Democrats themselves and the Republicans themselves don’t always agree with each other on what we should be doing in terms of foreign policy, immigration or protecting the environment. So, we have to recognize that just because we have two parties doesn’t mean we necessarily have two points of view.”

He reminded the students that they will all have the opportunity to vote on the candidates after the debate and said that there is no one right answer but did ask the students to not necessarily vote for the positions they already agree with but said he would like to see the students vote for the side they think presents their opinions in the best way and makes the most clear presentation of their positions on each issue.

U.S. Consul General Michael Heath thanked the students for their hard work in preparing for the debate, the volunteers and the American Corner as well as sponsor s.

The students then took the stage to present their case on various issues including foreign policy, ISIS, the economy and immigration, the very issues many Americans are discussing now.

The students said they were very excited to have the debate although several confessed it was difficult debating for policies they didn’t support but that it was a great learning opportunity and did open their eyes to differing points of view.

Students representing the Republican Party ready for the debate which was conducted entirely in English.

The table representing the Democrat Party supporting their candidate and his running mate.

Representatives for the Democrat Party (left) and Republican Party (right) take to the stage to debate.

Outside the debate was a comprehensive exhibition of the U.S. electoral process.