By Kathleen Dalton and Natalie Duleba, News Editor and Copy/Photo Editor
Spectators, state delegates, state chairs and political gurus sported cheese hats, plush corn cobs, red, white and blue face paint and American flags at the 2012 OWU Mock Convention Feb. 10 and 11.
Banners surrounded the balcony in Grey Chapel, each promoting a different state through clever sayings and decorations. Cardboard cutouts of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan joined those of current Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
The convention started Friday Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. and ended Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Participants were provided with dinner and musical entertainment from groups such as the OWTsiders, the Hayes High School Junior ROTC and OWU’s Brass Ensemble.
Students, professors and alumnae alike milled about Grey Chapel cheering, booing, chatting and discussing political issues and candidates with unparalleled fervor.
The student -led convention allowed politically-minded students to discuss and show support for the political candidates and issues. The convention, a primarily friendly affair, promoted participation in American politics and allowed students to think about and view political issues through a different perspective than they usually would.
“It’s so interesting to vote a different way politically and find a way to support it,” said senior Maren Oehl, the Oklahoma state chair.
Oehl announced her state as the “reddest state in the U.S.” each time she submitted votes on behalf of her delegation during roll call votes.
Students were able to discuss controversial political issues they felt strongly about, such as gay marriage and the death penalty.
“States can propose an amendment and 75 people need to sign and then we can vote on it,” said sophomore Rachel Vinciguerra, a delegate for Washington, D.C. “I think it’s kind of fun.”
The chapel was separated into sections according to states, and delegates from each state sat together. Security personnel guarded the stage where the organizers of the event, Tim Carney and Megan Hoffman sat. Each person who entered the event was asked to wear a credential and take it off upon departing from the convention.
Senior Chad Williams was one of the guards for the event, and spent the majority of his time guarding the stage. There were no large security threats but Williams still felt the need to be careful.
“Seeing people excited and dressed a little silly keeps you on your toes; it could get chaotic,” said Williams.
Williams felt, however, that the mood of the event was largely positive.
“Everyone’s here to really get down to business,” he said.
Junior Meredith Merklin echoed this sentiment in a statement to the entire convention.
“(There is) a lot of passion on both sides of the debate,” she said.
An example of this was found in the debate on domestic policy, namely the use of marijuana in the United States. This debate, titled the “War on Drugs” featured debates by students from several different states. Each debater stated the opinion of their state and supported it with examples. These examples and opinions, in some cases, were ones the students themselves may not necessarily have agreed with. Arguments garnered boos, cheers and even laughter depending upon their content.
After debate on that plank of the Republican Party platform, the minority option replaced the original text, which moved to end the “War on Drugs” as the “official” stance for the Republican Party.
Senior Alex Bailey’s statement that “(The Founding Fathers) founded this country on morality and we (the Republican Party) are God’s chosen party,” was met with an uproar.
A particularly controversial amendment proposed at the convention was “The Undead Protection Amendment,” proposed by Puerto Rico’s state chair Mark Esler, professor of politics and government.
The amendment stated,
“The party that supports the unborn should also support the undead.”
This amendment was eventually passed, and many students participating believed it brought down the serious tone of the convention. Others, such as the Wisconsin delegation, followed the zombie route by submitting a vice presidential nomination form for “Zombie Ronald Reagan” on Saturday.
Ultimately, this nomination was not taken into consideration despite the fact that the required number of signatures was obtained.
“It is the opinion of the Chair that nominees should have a pulse,” said Honorary Chair John Peterson.
Students took the mic to support nominees of their choice.
Up for presidential nomination was Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsmen, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Vice presidential nominations went out to OWU senior Kate Raulin, OWU President Rock Jones, Condeleeza Rice, Stephen Colbert, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and Ashley Baiser, associate professor of politics and government.
Raulin was eventually disqualified from the race due to ineligibility—she is not old enough to run—and Jones voluntarily dropped out of the race in favor of OWU.
After much debate, the convention settled on Mitt Romney and Stephen Colbert for the Republican Presidential ticket.