University and Media Hosted Debates Continue to Exclude Alternative Candidates Despite Responsibility to Maintain a Free Marketplace of Ideas.

407 S. Dearborn Street ♦ Suite 1170 ♦ Chicago, IL ♦ 60605
(312) 320-4101 ♦ FAX (866) 309-7803

Christina Tobin, Founder and Chair
Phone: 312-320-4101

University and Media Hosted Debates Continue to Exclude Alternative Candidates Despite Responsibility to Maintain a Free Marketplace of Ideas.

Southwestern Community College Goes One Step Further, Censors Student Journalists.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Universities and media outlets across California are excluding alternative candidates from participating in the debates they sponsor. The September 28 debate held at the University of California at Davis and co-sponsored by The Sacramento Bee included Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, but excluded all the other candidates. Other universities and media outlets have followed suit.

While colleges already suppress dissenting voices in the student population, they are also suppressing them in vital public debates. Once bastions of intellectual freedom, many of our nation’s universities have created a repressive environment, hindering tomorrow’s leaders from absorbing ideas from anyone but the leading Republican and Democratic candidates. And the media has continued the censorship through their coverage of only the top funded candidates.

The next debate will take place at California State University at Fresno, Saturday, October 2. As with previous debates, Fresno has proven its lack of courage and fairness to the candidates and their student population by excluding all gubernatorial candidates except for Brown and Whitman.

“Voters deserve to hear from all candidates in an open and fair debate, not just the leading Republican and Democrat,” said Christina Tobin, founder and chair of The Free and Equal Elections Foundation. “On behalf of Free and Equal, I urge Americans everywhere to contact California State University, Fresno, to let them know you don’t approve of candidate censorship.”

Mainstream media is supported by the welfare of large corporations that fund the top Republican and Democratic candidates as well as the top-funded candidates themselves. Voters have become disillusioned by the media and their bias. However, taxpayer-funded universities should not be used to exclude candidates.

In a separate but related issue, the Southwestern Community College governing board has threatened the school newspaper, The Sun, to not print its first edition. The paper has been critical of some board members, and the board wants to halt printing until after the elections. The board threatened the paper and staff and attempted to arrest some students.

“The United States of America was established with a Declaration of Independence followed by a Bill of Rights ensuring our unalienable rights including freedom of speech. To hear that a college which is supposed to teach free ideas and encourage independence is suppressing free press and ideas is alarming,” said Chelene Nightingale, the Constitution Party’s gubernatorial candidate for California. “Every student, in fact every American, needs to stand up now and defend liberty, especially now during the election process. If our election process is compromised and every voice is not heard, we the people will suffer the consequences of oppression. John Adams once stated, ‘once liberty is lost, it is gone forever.'”

“Californians are thoroughly disgusted with both Democratic and Republican Parties, and yet candidates from those Titanic Parties are the only ones invited to debate, even when Dominican University in San Rafael calls its debate the Green Debate. When the pollsters ask if people want the independent parties in the debates, the vast majority say ‘Yes!'” said Laura Wells, California’s Green Party gubernatorial candidate. “In a mockery of free speech, the Supreme Court declared that corporate money is ‘free speech’ while our peace officers confine real persons, when we rally for inclusion in the debates, into a fenced-in ‘free speech zone.’ California itself loses the debate when the independent political parties are not at the table to bring in the real issues and the real solutions.”

“It seems that those who have taken over most of our education system no longer believe in free speech and wish to suppress those who dare speak out. We need to put these fools out of business and remind them that free speech is a major cornerstone of democracy,” said Dale Ogden, Libertarian candidate for governor of California.

“We call for the inclusion of all ballot qualified candidates in any debate using public air waves through TV or radio for the statewide elections in which they are running. We also urge all candidates who are running for statewide office to join this call for democratic inclusion of all ballot qualified candidates on all televised and radio debates,” said Carlos Alvarez, California’s Peace and Freedom Party gubernatorial candidate.

Free and Equal will host a press conference in Sacramento, Calif. – specific location to-be-announced – to discuss the vital need for all-inclusive debates, Wednesday, October 6, at 1:00 p.m. The press conference will be followed by a fundraiser, to benefit Free and Equal’s production of all-inclusive candidate debates nationwide, in Mill Valley, Calif., Saturday, October 9.

All six California gubernatorial candidates are invited to both events to speak in support of Free and Equal’s movement to support all-inclusive debates, and Wells, Ogden and Alvarez will speak at both events, with Nightingale joining them for the press conference and tentatively for the fundraiser. Free and Equal also will invite all U.S. senatorial candidates to participate at both the press conference and fundraiser.

During October, Tobin will moderate back-to-back, all-inclusive gubernatorial and U.S. senatorial candidate debates in Illinois, Oklahoma and California.


Free & Equal is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, public-policy advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the rights of the politically marginalized and disenfranchised, particularly those of third party and Independent candidates.