College Debate 2016: How one Mac student voices issues for many


Marco Hernandez ’19 will represent Minnesotan millenials at College Debate 2016. Photo courtesy of Hernandez.

Esha Datta

Marco Hernandez ’19 will represent Minnesotan millenials at College Debate 2016. Photo courtesy of Hernandez.
Marco Hernandez ’19 will represent Minnesotan millenials at College Debate 2016. Photo courtesy of Hernandez.

Marco Hernandez ’19 is a political science and Latin American studies double major with major political aspirations.

TMW: Can you tell us about the College Debate 2016?

Marco H.: We are going to convene at Dominican University in San Rafael, California. When we go to San Rafael on Tuesday [Sept. 6] we’re going to be convening to talk about the platform for millennial college students. And the moderators for the presidential debates will be informed about this, because we will be making a platform and making questions for the moderators to ask the presidential candidates at these debates. So far there’s college students from 50 states. From Minnesota, there’s about four [students].

So you’ll be helping to create the questions that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be answering in a few weeks?

Yes. I don’t know in which debate they’ll be asked, but we’ll be some of hundreds of people who are responsible for making these questions.

How do you decide what issues you think should be asked about?

A personal issue for me is immigration reform. I have parents who are both undocumented, and I know the struggle of living in a country without papers and in fear of being deported. But I’m glad that they live in California, a state which respects immigrants by granting them licenses and benefits. Other delegates have their own personal opinions due to past experiences. Some can be in support of increasing our military spending or healthcare reform. I will be working on immigration reform and hopefully creating questions for the candidates. I can’t wait to hear from [the candidates], especially one, to answer that question. It’ll be really messed up if they don’t ask about this.

How are you preparing for College Debate 2016?

Of course, I’m packing. That’s going to take a while. I’m also mentally preparing, putting myself in the shoes of my parents, and many other immigrant families. I don’t want to only use my experience but speak with people who have similar backgrounds. I’m in the cultural org at Macalester called Adelante. It’s the Latino org and a lot of the participants are from a similar backgrounds. And I’ve been in contact with them about this to see how they can mold some of these questions to fit a demographic that is equivalent to that of the United States. It’s not only Latinos who are immigrants. We have African immigrants, European, Asian, Polynesian, you name it.

There have been a lot of issues that the media seems to discuss more than others. Are there any issues you think shouldn’t or don’t need to be given any more attention in the debates?

I would say the email scandal. It’s been going on for so long. [Secretary Clinton] has apologized for it. The FBI even got into it and said the Justice Department should not investigate more. I believe House Republicans are using this as a way to influence people to vote one way instead of the other. Just as Bernie Sanders said, “We are all tired of these goddamn emails.”

How did you get interested in this project?

I would have to go back to why I enjoy politics. Most of it has to do with President Barrack Obama being elected as the first person of color to be President of the free world back in 2008. Just seeing a person of color being president totally influenced me to learn more about our political system. With the College Debate 2016, I finally get to influence voters, since there’s going to be a lot of people watching these debates. And these questions will hopefully represent the demographics of this country, because we can’t just have the same old questions. We have to challenge these candidates to say the cold hard facts, what they believe in and what they believe would make this country progress and thrive.

You were inspired by President Barack Obama. Do you think or hope that your political participation can inspire others of similar backgrounds?

I really do hope that I inspire people here at Macalester and also in the future, when I do go into politics to try to recycle my success in my community. Where I come from, there’s not a lot of opportunity for us to move up the social and economic ladder. And I hope that from what I’ve been doing politically, I can make a change with that. I’ve seen that with the Hillary Clinton campaign, and I’m really excited, this November, to vote for her. I’m also about to start working for the campaign as a Hillary for America Fellow. I will be campaigning and hopefully influencing voters, being the change that people, including myself, want to see. And I hope to influence a fifth grader watching this election cycle. I wish for the best.

As you create these questions for the debates, are there any questions you think Macalester students should be thinking about for this election?

“Would you be in support of a person that has different ideological views than you?” It’s really important at Mac since the majority [of people] here, I would say, are liberal. And you don’t see or hear a lot of conservatives, so that’s my question. Would you still respect a person for having different ideological views?