Students explaining top presidential candidates' positions in online forum

Tim Farnsworth, Andre FieldsWith the 2008 presidential election looming, two Oswego students are presenting the leading contenders’ positions on important issues to students through an online forum.

Two students active in campus and community politics, Tim Farnsworth and Andre Fields, will convey the positions of Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, respectively, at www.oswego.edu/2008forum. A weekly installment will tackle topics of note including the economy, energy, health care, the environment and foreign policy.

Farnsworth and Fields see this as an opportunity to inform students, whose needs are not always addressed by the candidates, and to cut through the media haze to provide facts on where the top candidates stand on issues.

Fields, who is in his second year as Student Association vice president, developed his interest in politics quite accidentally. Before his junior year of high school, he tore ligaments in his ankle and knew he would have to miss the upcoming football season. “Suddenly, I had nothing else to do,” recalled Fields, a senior political science major with a public policy administration minor. “I had one history teacher who got me interested in politics and history. We’d have long talks, and I’d go home looking for more information.”

The teacher convinced him to run for office, and Fields ended up winning. He served as class president his junior and senior years of high school, and his interest on politics has only continued to grow. He served as a student senator for Cayuga Hall his first two years before earning the SA vice presidency.

“I stay informed on all the issues and a lot of people ask me questions” about the political scene, Fields said, so the forum allows him to communicate to a wider audience.

Farnsworth grew up in a military family, to which he attributes his always being interested in politics. But it wasn’t until he returned to college at the age of 24 that he really became serious about it. “Each new year since, I’ve become more interested in it,” said Farnsworth, a double major in political science and global and international studies with a minor in public policy administration. He started as a student senator for Mackin Hall, and last year was chief of staff for SA President Josh Miller. This year, his involvement includes membership on the Civic Engagement Coalition, and he traveled to the Republican National Convention through the Washington Center’s Presidential Seminar program.

He also hosts a political topic radio show at 6 p.m. Thursdays on WNYO, the student radio station. Farnsworth has regular contributors and guests, including Oswego professors. “We try to bring in faculty to provide their expertise, bring them out of the classroom, engage them in a different way,” he said.

Farnsworth’s show will host both competitors for the 48th State Senate district in the coming weeks: incumbent Democrat Darrel Aubertine on Oct. 16 and Republican challenger Dave Renzi on Oct. 30.

The plan for the pair’s online political forum is to post a new topic, with the respective major presidential candidates’ positions, every Monday through Election Day. An online forum installment explaining the positions of third-party candidates is also scheduled.

Members of the SUNY Oswego community can weigh in on the issues, via moderated comments at the end of the students’ entries.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Explaining positions—Andre Fields (left) and Tim Farnsworth are explaining the positions of the two leading presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, respectively, in a new interactive online forum.

(Posted: Oct 08, 2008)

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