Costigan to launch political debate series

A University-wide debate series will launch this fall, bringing high-profile speakers to campus as part of the newest programming effort by the Student Association executive vice president.

Ted Costigan said politics is something student groups can rally around and the debate series will create opportunities for student organizations to collaborate on programming.

“This has been a long term goal of mine,” Costigan said. “It makes sense because so many people here are politically active.”

He pointed to last spring’s debate between Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich, hosted by the College Democrats and the College Republicans, as an example of a politically-focused event that was able to attract a wide student base.

Costigan said each debate will focus on one issue – anything from President Barack Obama’s health care bill to legalizing marijuana – and multiple student organizations, such as the College Democrats, College Republicans and Program Board, will be asked to co-host.

“The debate series should better dialogue, not necessarily about politics but simply stimulate current thought,” he said.

The date for the first debate is not scheduled, but Costigan said he wants it to happen in the fall. He hopes two or three debates will follow in the spring.

The Student Association has taken flak in previous years for focusing on programming, but Costigan brushed off these concerns saying the debate series is within the job scope of the executive vice president.

“If I thought it was outside my role, I wouldn’t be organizing it,” Costigan said.

He added that he is organizing these events because he wants to make “a lasting impact” on the University.

In its first year, Costigan said funding for the debates would come from the Student Association’s co-sponsorship budget and possibly from external funding from grants.

This type of collaborative programming is in line with GW’s new directions for student organizations. A plateauing budget, rising event costs and growing number of student organizations vying for money will stress the SA’s allocation pool, forcing student groups to work together to cover costs.

For Associate Dean of Students Tim Miller, collective programming is ideal for student groups, but he said getting organizations into the “mindset” of collaboration will be slow..

“Students are used to owning events by themselves. They want their name to be on that flyer,” Miller said.

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