Citadel Cadet and Army ROTC student James Durant, S.C. delegate for College Debate 2016

Cadet James Durant representing SC in national “College Debate 2016”

 A first-of-its-kind, student-led initiative called College Debate 2016 (CD16) is underway to turn up the volume on student conversations about the presidential election. The Dominican University project is intended to compel millennials across America to vote in November by engaging them in respectful conversations about what issues are important to them.

Cadet James Durant, a junior from The Citadel is helping represent the state of South Carolina as one of the student delegates who are from 150 colleges and all 50 states. The group first met in June to share ideas, and will reconvene Sept. 7 on the Dominican University campus in California to examine issues.

Durant, who is attending The Citadel on an Army scholarship and is also in the Army National Guard, is featured in an online grid of students who are participating in CD16. Each profile includes a quote about that student’s top concerns for the election. Durant’s tile says:

“The essential issues of lowering the unemployment rate without minimizing entitlements, the reform of the criminal justice system to help minimize cop killings and deaths of bystanders, and also with me being a current service member the issue of military funding and resources also resound quite loudly...”

The criminal justice major from Kinston, North Carolina is one of three students from colleges in South Carolina that are participating. Durant says he was eager to become involved when he learned that the initiative is non-partisan in nature, centered-on engaging young voters rather than supporting specific candidates.  

“College Debate 16 is an important initiative to me because of the emphasis placed on empowering young, college-age voters to exercise their right to vote,” Durant said. “We want our peers to understand that voting allows us to express our concerns on the issues that affect not just us as a generation, but as a country as a whole.”

Durant and the other delegates are using a combination of social media and face to face interactions with their campus peers to identify what issues they will discuss at the September CD16 assembly. The delegates will vote on the top five, and those issues will then be provided to the moderators of the presidential debates, an action CD16 organizers say is unprecedented and will bring millennial matters directly to the candidates.

The four scheduled debates are as follows:

  • September 26 - Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York
  • October 4 - Longwood University, Farmville, Virginia (Vice-presidential debate)
  • October 9 - Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
  • October 19 - University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada

 CD16 was created and is being led by Dominican University of California, a Voter Education Partner of the Commission on Presidential Debates.