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UTSA political science students watch presidential debates, analyze candidate responses

debate viewing
debate viewing

Presidential debate viewing Oct. 3 at UTSA Main Campus
(Photos by Kris Rodriguez)

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(Oct. 16, 2012) -- Students filled the Main Building auditoriums on the UTSA Main Campus Oct. 3 to watch the first presidential debate and Oct. 11 for the vice presidential debate. Hosted by the UTSA Department of Political Science and Geography, Student Government Association and SA Votes 2012 members, there also will be presidential debate viewings from 7:30 to 10 p.m., Oct. 16 and 22 in the Main Building Auditoriums (0.106 and 0.104). Free and open to the public, the goal of the events is to encourage student participation in the political process.

"It was awesome to see students involved in political affairs," said Daniel Khalil, UTSA senior political science and anthropology major, at the Oct. 3 viewing. "This event showed that students are interested in the political process with all their cheering and responses during the debate."

As a class assignment, UTSA political science professors Jeff Harmon and Henry Esparza encouraged their students to express their opinions during the debate through the use of an interactive application survey. The virtual lab gauged viewer reactions during the debate as each speaker covered a topic. Questions appeared on screens as subjects arose during the live debate to see if the viewer liked or disliked a candidate's response.

"We gave students some data analysis tools in class on determining who the average voter is," said Harmon. "We then wanted the students to observe the debate and figure out which audience the candidate is trying to appeal to."

For many students, it was the first time they had watched an electoral debate.

"Coming to a debate watch is a lot cooler than having to learn about polling trends on your own with just a textbook," said Nathan Olivares, UTSA sophomore small business and entrepreneurship major. "We had to learn about polling research and determine for ourselves if they are reliable resources in predicting who gets elected for presidency."

POL 1013 (Introduction to American Politics) is one of the 15 courses under the Quantitative Literacy Program (QLP), which aims to help students develop their quantitative reasoning skills by increasing contextual learning and advancing student knowledge of data analysis.

"Harmon's class is always politically charging," said Alejandro Mayor, a sophomore business management major. "I try to keep myself more informed on current affairs so I'm prepared to participate in class and throw in my opinions."

Harmon's and Esparza's students learn to look at data and understand the demographic factors that underlie a range of political variables including partisanship, ideology and turnout.

"We had the students look at the survey data and determine where the trends were going to go," Harmon said. "Now, they'll go back to see if these debates matter in the polling trends. Will these debates change the opinions of the voters or not?"



Dec. 1, 9 a.m.

CITE Venture Competition & Exposition

The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus

Dec. 3, 5:30 p.m.

UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert

This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus

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Did You Know?

UTSA writes the book on all-digital libraries

As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.

At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.

Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.

With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.

Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.

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