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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Does voting really matter? Should the draft be reinstated? Should Sarah Palin run for president?

These are some of the questions that the Bob Graham Center Public Service Council will encourage students to answer through the Great Civil Debate Wall.

Launching Jan. 17, the wall will allow UF students and Gainesville residents to debate current politicized and controversial issues.

Eleven members of the council met Monday evening to compile a bank of questions, which will be displayed on five touch-screen kiosks on a wall of the Pugh Hall Ocora Room.

The wall is comprised of electronic interfaces that display questions in topics from international relations to policies implemented at UF.

Visitors are asked a yes-or-no question and are then prompted to supplement their answers with an explanation consisting of 140 characters or less. Users can then comment on other visitors' responses.

The wall has cost about $250,000 of a $3 million Knight Foundation grant, said Ann Henderson, director of the Graham Center.

"Our big goal is to have [2,500] students using it," said 21-year-old Sabin Ciocan, a UF history and political science senior and president of the Graham Center Public Service Council.

"We're trying to study whether social media can be used to improve our civic dialogue in the United States," Henderson said.

Eight percent of Floridians under the age of 30 voted in the 2010 election, said Shelby Taylor, digital/communications director of the Graham Center.

"We, as a public university, and the Bob Graham Center, as a public service center, have an obligation to try to turn those numbers around," she said.

For more information on the wall, visit graham.centers.ufl.edu.

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