Campus community invited to candidate open house

Curious about the individuals running for local office?

The Office of Government and Community Relations at Oakland University is hosting its first “Meet the Candidates Open House” at the OU INCubator in the Shotwell-Gustafson Pavilion Oct. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Members of the OU community have the opportunity to drop by and meet both state and national candidates and the 8th and 11th Congressional District candidates.

They will be met via round table discussions with eight to 10 people in the Clean Energy Research Center, according to Rochelle Black, OU vice president of Government and Community Relations and one of the event’s coordinators.

The event will also include speeches by members of the congressional districts.

Forming the idea

“The idea came about because we wanted to find a way to connect the OU community with people running for office,” Black said. “It’s the first time we are hosting the event like this.”

After collecting information to poll the top 10 cities of students, faculty, staff and alumni, two congressional districts were chosen to cover the majority.

Because almost 50 percent of the student population resides in Oakland County, six offices from that area will attend, including executive, clerk, water commissioner, county treasurer, prosecutor and sheriff, according to Black. Several state house candidates from Macomb County will also attend, because of the student presence in that area.

The Clean Energy Research Center, where the round tables will be set, will be split by party.

Ideally, Black said all parties will attend, including Democratic, Republican and third-party candidates. 

While the political science program was not involved in the planning of this event, Dave Dulio, political science department chair, thinks this is a great event for all members of the OU community to attend. He is also recommending it to his students.

Elected officials and students interaction

“Hosting it as an open house gives students a chance to interact with elected officials, which is never a bad thing,” Dulio said. “It is also important for the university because we don’t have many mechanisms to support candidates providing opportunities to meet with potential constituents. It helps the candidates but also provides a public service, as part of the larger mission of the university to engage with the public,” he said.

While OU has been hosting many political events, including the recent Paul Ryan rally and last year’s Republican Primary Debate, this event provides a different opportunity.

Rather than utilizing the university as a venue, the Open House gives attendees the chance to speak with candidates and have their voice heard, according to Dulio.

“Students and others from the OU community should attend to learn more about who they’re voting for,” Black said. “It’s very important for officials to know that people care about the issues. Voters’ desire and complacency to learn sends a powerful message to candidates.”

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