Kudos on a debate well done

Last Thursday, Washington University hosted yet another important national political debate, its fourth in the last five election cycles. These debates have provided an important opportunity for the University to gain exposure on the national level and to expose its students to the political process and enhance their civic awareness.

We would like to congratulate the administration and the student body for making the debate such a success. More than 400 students were able to attend the debates, nearly three times as many as had been allowed to attend debates in the past. For students who did not receive tickets, the University arranged for other ways to be involved on campus, including providing a large viewing screen in the Danforth University Center where students could watch the debate together. The skillful handling of logistics by the University allowed most students who wished to participate in the debate a real opportunity to do so.

The students, to their credit, did not take these opportunities for granted. Students of all political persuasions took to the campus to advocate their beliefs in a way that was serious, passionate and respectful. The president of Student Union, Brittany Perez, gave a thoughtful and eloquent speech at the start of a debate that was seen by millions of viewers. Overall, the University and the student body were well represented.

However, students should not regard their conduct during the debate as a unique response to a one-time event. With two more presidential debates and nearly one month remaining before the election in November, the dedication and engagement of students will become more, not less, important in the following weeks. Students should do all they can to avoid slipping back into the old habits of schoolwork and studying to the exclusion of national awareness.

Students should continue to familiarize themselves with candidates, to follow the events of the financial crisis and the war in Iraq and to educate themselves on the ballot initiatives they will have a chance to influence in November. There may not be cameras around campus anymore, but that is no reason not to continue public assembly for education and discussion of the important issues that will soon be decided upon.

Students were a class act during the debate. But let’s make this engagement a habit, not an exception.

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