Catt Center coordinates caucus education activities

With presidential candidates campaigning across the state in advance of 2016 Iowa Caucuses, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics is coordinating several activities to educate and engage voters in the political process.

The Catt Center has organized a panel of Iowa State faculty to discuss the Iowa Caucuses as the opening event of the State Historical Society of Iowa’s “first in the nation” speaker series on Oct. 2. The center is sponsoring campus watch parties for the Democratic candidate and Republican candidate debates on Oct. 13 and Oct. 28. And, on Nov. 9, the center is hosting the state historical society’s “First in the Nation” traveling exhibit on the Iowa Caucuses and presenting an Iowa Caucus Education Workshop.

All events are free and open to the public.

“Over the past 20 years, the Catt Center has been actively involved in sponsoring events to interest, educate and engage Iowa State students and community members in the political process, including Iowa’s first in the nation caucuses,” said Dianne Bystrom, director. “In addition to debate watches and the caucus education workshop, which we have sponsored in previous election cycles, we are pleased to partner this year with the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the State Historical Society on several of their caucus activities.”

The “First in the Nation: ISU Expert Panel” begins at noon on Friday, Oct. 2, at the State Historical Building of Iowa, located at 600 E. Locust St. in Des Moines. Following an introduction by DCA director Mary Cownie, the panel will feature ISU’s Kelly Winfrey, assistant professor of journalism and communication, who will serve as moderator, and panelists Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science; Dianne Bystrom, director of the Catt Center; Mack Shelly, university professor and chair of the Department of Political Science; and Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science. The panel, which will include questions from the audience, will end at 1 p.m.

The Catt Center also is organizing debate watches on the evenings of Tuesday, Oct. 13, and Wednesday, Oct. 28, in Hamilton Hall. Co-sponsors of the debate watches are the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, the Speech Communication Program, the Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government), and the Andrew Goodman Foundation ambassadors.

Iowa State students and members of the Ames community are invited to watch the CNN Democratic candidate debate on Oct. 13 and the CNBC Republican candidate debate on Oct. 28 in rooms 153 and 172 in Hamilton Hall. Light refreshments will be provided. After the debate, the televisions will be turned off and participants will voice their views on what they heard from the candidates in a discussion led by Bystrom, Winfrey and Ben Crosby, associate professor of English/speech communication. Both debates will be broadcast in the evening, but the start times have not yet been released. The room will open about 45 minutes before the debates begin with refreshments available.

On Monday, Nov. 9, the Catt Center is hosting two activities related to the Iowa Caucuses in the Memorial Union. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the South Ballroom, the state historical society’s “First in the Nation” traveling exhibit on the Iowa Caucuses will be displayed along with an excerpt from a documentary on the Iowa Caucuses produced by IPTV. From 2-6 p.m., the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County will offer voter registration in the South Ballroom as part of this event.

The Catt Center’s Iowa Caucus Education Workshop will be presented from 4-5:15 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 9, in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. The event will feature several prominent guest speakers who will talk about the importance of the Iowa Caucuses and explain the Republican Party caucus process and the Democratic Party caucus process. Following these presentations, members of the Republican and Democratic parties will lead mock caucuses for the workshop participants.

Dave Price, WHO-TV’s political director, will open the workshop with remarks on the importance of the Iowa Caucuses. At the Des Moines NBC-TV affiliate, Price specializes in coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and state government. His first book, “Caucus Chaos,” provides an insider’s account of the always unpredictable way Iowans help pick the next president.

Kim Reem, president of the Iowa Federation of Republic Women, and Dr. Andy McGuire, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, will explain their party’s caucus process during the workshop. They will be joined by Josie-Rae Bradley, the caucus to convention director for the Iowa Democratic Party, and Gwen Ecklund, past president of the IFRW, in leading a mock caucus.

The day will end with a resource fair from 5:15 to 6 p.m. in the South Ballroom. The resource fair will feature voter registration as well information tables hosted by campus political organizations, including those formed in support of the various Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. The Iowa Caucus Education Workshop is co-sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, the Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government), the Andrew Goodman Foundation ambassadors, the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County, the Ames Chamber of Commerce, the Iowa State Daily, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, the Speech Communication Program, and the Department of Political Science.