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2008.09.19 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

UNO Hosts DebateWatch 2008

Omaha - Omaha residents will voice their opinions on the issues after viewing the presidential and vice-presidential debates at a series of non-partisan events sponsored by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) School of Communication and the Civic Participation Project.

UNO will host DebateWatch 2008 on Friday, Sept. 26 at the Milo Bail Student Center and on Thursday, Oct. 2, Tuesday, Oct. 7, and Wednesday, Oct. 15 at the Thompson Alumni Center. The orientation for the event begins at 7:30 p.m., and the debates will last 90 minutes beginning at 8 p.m. Small group discussions will follow the debates. Parking will be available in any campus parking lot for the first event and at the Thompson Alumni Center for the other three events.

DebateWatch brings citizens together to view the debates and then participate in small group discussions. "We want to know what Omahans think first-hand," said Barbara Pickering, associate professor of Communication at UNO. "We want to get people talking to each other first. This is why we will not view the post-debate commentary before the small group discussions begin."

The first presidential debate will focus on domestic policy, and the third presidential debate will focus on foreign policy. The second presidential debate will be a town hall meeting format, and it will include issues raised by the audience. The vice-presidential debate will focus on both domestic and foreign policy.

The Commission on Presidential Debates and the National Communication Association are sponsors of DebateWatch 2008. UNO is one of the 123 universities participating in the project. Students who participate in DebateWatch have shown an increased knowledge of political issues, and are more likely to vote, especially when participating in discussion groups that include people of all ages.

"We're hoping to get a large turnout, both from the student body and the community. We encourage everyone of voting age in the community to attend these non-partisan events, and let their voices be heard," Pickering said. For more information on DebateWatch at UNO, contact Pickering at bpickering@unomaha.edu or at 554-2204.

* *

UNO will celebrate its 100th anniversary beginning October 8, 2008. This celebration will recognize the partnership among the City of Omaha, its citizens and UNO to build a vibrant and dynamic community. The centennial theme is “UNO: Central To Our City Since 1908.” This theme acknowledges the past contributions of UNO to the community and sets the stage for great things to come.

UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908. For Centennial information, go to http://www.unomaha.edu/100/.

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