USF students traveling to final presidential debate to press candidates on climate change

10/19/12 Seán Kinane
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The issue of global climate disruption has not been emphasized enough during this presidential campaign.

That’s the position of some students from the University of South Florida who are heading down to Boca Raton for the final presidential debate Monday.

"The Student Environmental Association is a student group at USF that works on lots of different campaigns aimed at working with the community and with the local students to clean up the campus and push sustainability issues. We are working on a campaign currently called the "Power Vote" campaign which is a national campaign that happens every election year which is aimed at educating young voters about climate change and getting politicians to act on climate change policy."

Part of that action, part of this campaign that you have is that you're going down to Boca Raton, which is where the third and final presidential debate is because you want to engage the candidates on climate information. Tell us why that is, why are you going down there?

"Power Vote thinks that neither [major party] candidate has addressed climate change. We haven't really spoken about clean energy or what we're going to do to address the climate change issue in the future. So Power Vote students across all of Florida are traveling to Boca Raton to demand that our candidates speak up on climate change and propose a policy."

Do you expect to have access to the presidential candidates?

"We hope to get as close as we can, you know, we're citizens as well. We just want to get in there and have our voices be heard."

Tell me why climate change is an important issue to you?

"Climate change is a forefront issue in this election and it's important to all students in Florida because it's something that we can't ignore any longer. It's an issue that's pertinent and related to the economy and health as well and should be up there on the presidential platform."

Climate change has not really been an issue in either of the two debates so far in fact in the first debate, if anything, it was a joke line that Mitt Romney put in. He said that President Obama promised to stop the rise of the ocean. So how do you feel about that line, for example, about Mitt Romney saying that about climate change?

"I think that it's clear that neither candidate take climate change seriously as an issue. They're being pushed to speak on the economy, health care, and our foreign issues without really realizing that climate change is related to all of these and that it's something that's is just as dire as these situations and should be addressed."

If you would like to hear something from the presidential candidates about climate change, what is it that they could do? What do you think that would convince you that someone is getting serious about climate change?

"That's a great question. I think the issue is more than just about what I would want in this situation. It's what all students want and also there's a ... I mean we just want a clean environment to live in. We want to be sure that future generations are going to have an environment that's clean and healthy and that needs to be done by addressing climate change issues and providing ourselves with a clean energy future which is what we hope our candidates will do."

If people want to find out more information about your group or about this campaign or about your trip to Boca Raton where can they go?

"If anybody would like to find out more about Power Vote they can go to the student environmental association that USF has their own Power Vote page. And if they'd like to contact me about Boca Raton they can do so directly."

Shaza Hussein is with the Student Environmental Association at USF. She and other Power Vote members are organizing people to consider climate change when they vote.

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