Thursday, October 14, 2004

Xavier students gather, let own voices be heard

By Steve Kemme
Enquirer staff writer

Ken Akers, a sophomore at Xavier University, speaks during a discussion Wednesday night at Xavier University. More than 50 students gathered to watch the debates and discuss political issues.
The Enquirer/TONY JONES
EVANSTON - As Sen. John Kerry and President Bush prepared to square off against each other Wednesday night for the third time, film clips from the first two debates generated some heated discussion at Xavier University.

More than 50 Xavier students - many of them first-time voters - and a panel of political experts met in a Schmidt Hall boardroom to discuss the issues that surfaced in the first two debates before watching the third.

Nonpartisan organizer

After seeing a film clip of Bush and Kerry stating their positions on the war in Iraq, Charlie Gabis, a Xavier freshman, defended the president's rationale for the war.

"Under Saddam Hussein, 35 to 40 people a day were killed," Gabis said. "We pushed diplomacy to the limits and it didn't work."

Ken Akers, a sophomore who said he doesn't like either Bush or Kerry, spoke about the war in painfully personal terms.

He said his cousin, an Army officer, was killed a month ago in Iraq.

"My cousin was sent over there to find weapons of mass destruction," Akers said. "My cousin isn't coming back. The war has cost me something extremely precious, and we did it for the wrong reason."

A university non-partisan political club called X-You Decide 2004 organized the event at Xavier.

The experts on the panel represented both parties. But the students had as much time to comment as the panel members.

"This night is really about voters, not experts," said Gene Beaupre, Xavier political science professor and moderator of the discussion about the first two presidential debates.

"This is the kind of thing that politics is all about - people in a room talking about the positions they have," he said. "To me, the first and most important thing is to have dialogue."

After listening to clips of Bush and Kerry from the earlier debates talking about the environment, a panelist, Michael Barrett, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, cautioned the students not to focus on the styles of the two candidates.

"Bush gave specifics on the environmental issues," Barrett said. "I'll give Kerry points for style, but not for substance."

A Democratic panelist, Charles Halpern, co-founder of the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C., said Kerry has fought for years to protect the environment.

"He's been a leader on environmental issues," Halpern said.

Abortion and religion

On the abortion issue, freshman Shane Gleason criticized Kerry's willingness to allow federal funds to be used for abortions under certain circumstances.

"Just because abortion is legal doesn't mean we should fund it," Gleason said.

Panelist Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, responded to a student who questioned how Kerry could call himself a Catholic while refusing to oppose federal funding for abortions.

"I would never question somebody else's religion," Burke said. "He is what he is, and he was raised a Catholic.


Bishop Woods in peril?
Seton High School details expansion plan
Officer graduates, loses job
County settles on stadium

Gay-rights sides target black vote
Bush, Kerry spar on domestic issues
Noonan: Kerry 'worst of party'
Kerry's plan, Bush's past declarations scrutinized
Xavier students gather, let own voices be heard
Transcript of Bush, Kerry debate

Taft: 'No' on same-sex issue
Insults fly in Senate race
Vote monitor optimistic
Lawyers rate candidates
Westwood and Groob square off tonight
Lawyer sues over lost form to vote
Middletown streets on ballot
Election 2004 page

EPA, trash firm debate leak from closed landfill
Council rejects police plans
Fire union disputes cost-saving plan
Museum faces cutbacks
Frist: Doctors leaving Ohio
Two teenagers arrested in Royal Crown hotel fire
Witness: Mom not hysterical, though fire trapped her infant
Local news briefs
Mayor of Madeira retires, is moving to Warren County
Man ruled insane in murder of activist
Milford police chief resigns, halting property misuse case
State audit faults Morrow
Neighbors briefs
Killer who blamed his victim is executed at Lucasville prison
Public safety briefs
Northwest Local Schools loses board president
Sierra Club pushes renewable energy
New drivers get look at real-life tragedies
OT for Bush rally covered

'Thirty Ghosts' uneven
Dancers make impact

Bronson: Council deaf to pleas for crime control
Good Things Happening

Alex C. Papas, 84, made candy

Towne Center should proceed with latest OK
River view the draw for condos
Losing weight inspired teacher to help others
State insurance plan outlined
N. Ky. news briefs
Dad, lawyer run from SUV after custody case; mom held
Most N.Ky. schools meeting state goals
House fire victim loses Fla. home, too
Fletcher blamed for flap