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Charlotte event offered unique experience for students

A dozen Elon students attended a Sept. 3 Elon University Poll press conference and panel discussion with political experts and journalists.

Senior Jasmine Whaley was one of 12 students who attended a Sept. 3 Elon University Poll news conference in Charlotte.

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For many Elon seniors like Jasmine Whaley, this November will be the first time they can cast a vote in a presidential election.

That is why on Monday morning, Whaley took the time to go to Charlotte and listen to six political experts and journalists as they discussed the latest results from the Elon University Poll and the impact North Carolina may have in the upcoming elections.

"This is an absolutely phenomenal opportunity," she said of the event. "It's not every day that you get to sit down and listen to political analysts from NBC."

Among the panelists at the event were Charlie Cook of The Cook Political Report and the National Journal, David Gergen of CNN and the Harvard Kennedy School, and Domenico Montanaro, NBC News deputy political editor.

Whaley said she was surprised that a lot of what was discussed at the event aligned with her own observations of the political landscape in the state. She was thankful to see the discussion also included outside sources that validated the credibility of the poll results.

"I came with a preconceived notion that it was going to be more like a Q&A, but they took it into their own hands and it became a discussion," said sophomore Michael Papich said. "It was more interesting than I thought it'd be."

"The Elon Poll is very unique in the way the survey is gathered, the way it utilizes students and the broad representation of North Carolina voters," she said. "It's the stuff that political science majors dream of."

Alex Lake, a senior marketing and entrepreneurship major, said the event was an opportunity to see "history happen" because of the role the state may play on the presidential election. He was pleasantly surprised to hear the poll results gave Republican contender Mitt Romney an edge over President Barack Obama.

Sophomore Michael Papich, a journalism major, said he was encouraged to attend the event by Associate Professor of Communications Janna Anderson. While he could have stayed on campus and written his story using information from a press release, getting the information live and hearing the discussion that followed added an additional dimension to his reporting, he said.

Panelist David Gergen talks with Elon student Cat Valero.

"I've never had to report on a panel," he added. "I came with a preconceived notion that it was going to be more like a Q&A, but they took it into their own hands and it became a discussion. It was more interesting than I thought it'd be."

For senior Edith Veremu, a strategic communications major, the event not only allowed her to see the results of her work -- she has worked as a pollster for the Elon Poll in the past -- but also American politics in action. "It was a great opportunity to see firsthand how the public can dictate the election," said Veremu, a native of Zimbabwe.

The event was one of many Elon students will be involved with this week as the Democratic National Convention takes place in Charlotte.

Anderson said having such an event close to campus offers many opportunities for students to have real-world experiences. Several Pendulum reporters and Elon Local News staff members will be reporting all week long from Charlotte, while a multimedia journalism class will spend Thursday gathering and posting reports from many angles.

"The university’s support for student involvement in this national event has been outstanding," she said. "There’s nothing like experiencing the real thing in a premier setting like this one. You can’t replicate it in a classroom exercise.

"This opportunity is something these young people will remember as one of the highlights of their lives."

Keren Rivas,
Staff
9/4/2012 11:51 AM