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Caucus date set

A few lucky Drake students will do things like bring coffee to Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos in Sheslow Auditorium as they prepare for the ABC News Republican presidential debate in December.

The university has partnered with ABC and the Republican Party of Iowa to bring the debate to Drake’s campus on Dec. 10.

Rachel Caufield, associate professor of politics, said students should get as involved as possible. The debate will, after all, bring presidential candidates and a major national news network to campus.

“We know it’s the weekend before finals, inconvenient timing, but as a university (we’re) committed to creating opportunities for students to engage in political questions and achieve academic success,” Caufield said. “We look forward to hosting ABC while at the same time disrupting campus as little as possible.”

This isn’t the first time Drake has opened its campus to ABC and the debates. The two partnered for a Republican debate in 2007, before the last presidential election.

Students worked with ABC production crews to gain experience both in politics and in the field of television and news. This year, students will have the same opportunities.

“ABC will be recruiting volunteers, but there will be a centralized application process,” Caufield said. “We are also working with student life so those who aren’t working or at the debate can participate in some other way.”

Sophomore Benjamin Levine, president of the Young Americans for Liberty, a non-partisan group on campus, said members of the organization look forward to the debates.

“We will definitely be attending,” Levine said. “Many of us, I assume, will be cheering on Ron Paul, as he is the candidate who aligns closest with our views.”

Students are encouraged to not only get involved in the debates but also in the actual caucuses as well. After plenty of jockeying for position, Iowa has set the date for the caucuses for Jan. 3, 2012. The state remains the first presidential caucus as of now.

“Every four years, we go through the same process of moving up the date until we reach the year before (the caucuses begin), but in actuality that has never happened, and I doubt it ever will,” Caufield said.

Though school won’t be in session when the caucuses take place, Caufield said it is very important that students start making plans now to be here for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Obviously Jan. 3 is, again, an inconvenient time since the university is closed, but I encourage students to make plans to stay now,” Caufield said. “You only get one chance to participate unless you plan on staying in Iowa (after college). So even if it is inconvenient, I really think students should be here.”

For the 2008 caucus, Drake opened Parents Hall to any students who wanted to camp out since the dorms are closed. There has yet to be a decision made on whether or not that will happen this caucus season.

To stay updated on all the latest caucus news, the Drake Iowa Caucus Resource Center officially launched its website at iowacaucuses.drake.edu and will be following all of the caucus events around the Des Moines area. The group will also be keeping students updated on how to get involved.

To get  the latest information on the caucuses, visit iowacaucuses.drake.edu


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