“[My college Political Science class] was a great class but it didn’t have much to do with reality,” said Bunkley. “Your kids have already learned the way, haven’t they?”
Orlando didn’t hesitate to answer. “This is my favorite time to be a professor. Any time you get a chance to get students practical education, that’s a lot better than just reading something in a book or just a lecture,” he said.
The A.R.L.E. has slowly been gaining exposure in media outlets as the time approaches for the big debate. Bunkley’s interview kicked off the busy week of press and preparation for the candidates and their campaign teams. Jeff Borden, the Chief Innovation Officer; Frank Orlando, a Political Science professor; and the two candidates, Burke Tomaselli (R) and Zoe Mathieu (D) sat down with Bunkley to discuss the educational opportunity.
“We brought together seven different disciplines, and nine different classes,” said Jeff Borden.
Bunkley posed a question to the Democratic candidate: “If you were elected you’d be the first woman president…has that been part of your stump speech?”
“I just want to be a voice for the things that I care about most: education and healthcare,” Mathieu said diplomatically. “Sometimes I’m not taken as seriously as I could be.”
Mathieu was homeschooled by her mother, a teacher in the public school system.
“She always wanted us to have a broad perspective. I would have debates with my dad in the kitchen when I was seven years old,” said Mathieu.
While education is one of the Democrat’s main focal points in this debate, the Republicans, according to Tomaselli, are focusing on the domestic economy and foreign affairs.
Bunkley turned to the candidates with a gleam in his eye, intrigued by what he heard. Although pressed for time, he wrapped up with the candidates’ most memorable moment throughout the A.R.L.E.
“Our scandals; it was really fun to have these scandals thrown at us – having something come out of left field, you don’t know what’s coming next,” said Mathieu.
The experience, although dubbed “alternate reality,” is extremely realistic – students gain full immersion into the lives of politicians. From late-night Twitter wars with Charles Franklin’s supposed extramarital partner to packed schedules of interviews, the students involved invest their time and effort into creating believable, well-respected reputations for their candidates.
“[I remember] telling my friends, ‘No I can’t go out on Friday because I have to meet with my education policy adviser,’” said Tomaselli.
“They’ve been meeting around the clock with their policy advisers and having mock debates with their vice presidential candidates,” Orlando added.
As the semester winds down, most students are focusing on finals while students in the A.R.L.E. are focusing their efforts on Nov. 13th. The debate started at 7 p.m. in the Boardrooms, and voting occurred at the end of the event.
“The president will essentially be voted for and crowned by 8:15,” said Borden.
Come out and support the students involved with the A.R.L.E.