Technology plays a key role in Wake Forest debate activities

Wake Forest University is using its Internet technology to respond to the Commission on Presidential Debates’ request for help in reaching young voters. Several Internet projects and partnerships are underway as the university prepares for the scheduled Oct. 11 Presidential Debate at campus landmark Wait Chapel.

“Our two goals are to encourage young people to vote by reaching them through technology, and to enable anyone to experience the debate electronically, including alumni and friends the world over,” said Bob Mills, associate vice president for university advancement.

Wake Forest has been nationally recognized for its use of technology since the 1996 launch of a technology initiative that provides all students with laptop computers and printers. The initiative has also increased the role of the Internet in the academic curriculum. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine has ranked Wake Forest 19th among America’s “Most Wired” universities and research schools.

The university is partnering with Rock the Vote, a nonprofit organization, to host a free concert in Winston-Salem that will wrap around the debate. Rock the Vote is a group that works to increase youth involvement in the political process.

As part of Rock the Vote’s partnership with Wake Forest, will host a live Webcast of the concert which will begin at 7:30 p.m. The show will pause at 9 p.m. for a live telecast of the debate on jumbo television screens. The music will continue after the debate ends at 10:30 p.m.

The concert will be the first ever held by Rock the Vote during a presidential debate. Opening acts will include local bands. The headlining group’s name will be announced closer to the Oct. 11 debate.

A number of young celebrities will be present to interview young people about their political opinions. These interviews will also be Webcast on

The presidential candidates have also been invited to attend the concert which will be held at either Ernie Shore Baseball Stadium or the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum Annex. It is not known whether they will attend.

The university’s Web site,, will also expand, in part thanks to help from Wake Forest students who are members of the Student Debate Committee. The site will offer visitors a comprehensive look at all aspects of the debate at

The site will specifically offer a link to media resources like fact sheets and photos, information about Wake Forest, ticket information, panoramic images of Wait Chapel and information about academic projects. The Web page will also offer links to the presidential candidates’ official Web sites.

The university is partnering with an Internet company to conduct a non-scientific poll using a “Question of the Day” format. This will be unique in that participants will be able to vote in agreement with previously posted statements, or post their own rebuttal.

Wake Forest’s Student Debate Committee will run the Web site as a link from the university’s Web site.

Wake Forest students and other young people ages 16 to 24 will also be able to register their opinions about the debate through a separate interactive Web site through a university partnership with another company. Participants in the national survey of about 5,000 young people will be able to register their opinions using “dials” on a Web site while they watch the debate live on television. Their opinions will be posted against a transcript of the debate and compared to those registered by older participants.

Plans for this survey project are still developing.

Students in Advanced Placement Government and U.S. History classes at 77 high schools nationwide are studying 12 campaign issues using an online curriculum designed by Wake Forest faculty members. The nine-week program, “Linking Debatable Issues, the Wake Forest A.P. Electoral Project” began Sept. 5 using a link from the university’s debate Web site.

“We’re trying to educate and excite these students about the electoral process so that when they are of voting age, they will be informed, engaged voters,” said Martha Allman, the “Linking Debatable Issues” coordinator.

Wake Forest is working with the College Board in carrying out the A.P. project. The high school students completed an online survey about their knowledge of each issue at the beginning of the course, and will be surveyed again at its conclusion. During the program, the students will also participate in several online events including threaded discussions moderated by the university’s faculty. They will also complete weekly polls about their political opinions.

Categories: University Announcement