C of I student represents Idaho at College Debate ’16

College of Idaho Speech and Debate Director Kyle Cheesewright asked his Howlin’ Yotes debate team if anyone wanted to represent the C of I at College Debate ’16. During the September event, students from around the country gathered at Dominican University in California to “empower young voters to identify issues and engage peers in the presidential election." 

“I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll do it,’” said C of I senior Frank Gigray. “And then Kyle told me my plane left in a week.”

Gigray joined peers from 150 institutions—representing every state and the District of Columbia—to focus on using social networking to get millennials involved and excited about politics. They also brainstormed questions that hopefully would be asked during the presidential debates, through targeting moderators and news agencies on social media. And Gigray stood tall as the only representative of the Gem State.

“I think it’s very important that our students get involved in the political process,” said Dr. John Ottenhoff, C of I vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “And Frank, as a double major in chemistry and psychology, is a great representation of the C of I and our PEAK curriculum. It’s a complicated world, and we need people who can think in complex ways—especially in politics.”

Though he found himself in a foreign environment, Gigray enjoyed meeting new people and discussing issues with students representing the full political spectrum. Over the two days, the students debated questions from five key themes. One final question was crafted from each area, except for foreign policy, where there was a tie.

Income inequality and economy—How would you restructure governmental assistance programs for the unemployed or impoverished to obtain self-sufficiency?

Foreign Policy (tie)

 1: What specific circumstances would prompt the United States to use military resources in a foreign country?  How would you utilize the nation’s military resources?

2: How do you plan on supporting Syrian civilians without creating further conflict with other political actors?

Social Justice and Civil Rights—What will you do to reduce the recidivism and mass incarceration rates in communities where poverty and violence are prevalent?

Immigration—What is your plan for aiding the employment of skilled refugees and immigrants in their respective fields?

Education—How will you ensure quality education to areas of socioeconomic disadvantage both in terms of K-12 and access to higher education?

After leaving the conference, Gigray wasn’t content to just talk about getting millennials involved in politics. Once back on the C of I campus, he and the debate team hosted a watch party for the first presidential debate. More chairs were needed in the McCain pub, as it filled with Yotes eager to watch the candidates face off.

“From a College Debate ’16 perspective, mission accomplished,” Gigray said.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit