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What Is It? PPO

Senior Joseph Sell attends a PPO meeting. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

The Public Policy Organization on the campus of BJU is giving students a better understanding and appreciation for politics through live stream events, a voter registration drive and reviving debate teams.

Jonathan Valadez, senior international studies major and president of the PPO, said, “The Public Policy Organization is a student organization dedicated to helping students think critically about their ideas and opinions that they hold.” While the organization has been in existence for five years, Valadez is attempting to restore the organization to the original value its now-graduated founder, Micah Chetta, intended.

Ryan Parimi hands out questionnaires. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

For example, the organization used to host annual voter registration drives, something that Valadez was able to restore this year.

“It went fantastic,” Valadez said. “We registered more than 100 students to vote.” The PPO has continued to host several successful events this semester, including the recent live streams of the presidential debate and the vice presidential debate.

The PPO will also be hosting an event with U.S. Representative William Timmons on Oct. 26 in Levinson Hall at 6:30 p.m. Timmons is the representative for the 4th District of South Carolina, where BJU is located.

Senior Joseph Sell attends a PPO meeting. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

The PPO is also going to bring back debate, which used to play a big role in societies. Communication faculty member Jeanine Aumiller will assist members in organizing their points logically and thinking critically on subjects.

Brenna Wynn, senior communications major and vice president of the PPO, said she hopes the organization will help students communicate their ideas better and discuss different opinions on issues without coming across as aggressive and unprofessional.

“We want certain skill sets to be developed,” Wynn said. “No matter what career or what you end up doing, once you graduate, you’re going to have times where you might disagree with a coworker or someone else about a different topic,” Wynn said she wants the organization to be easily accessible to students. “We want there to be an open discussion so that students can vote with a biblical mindset,” Wynn said.

Information on the spring 2021 debate team was given to new and returning students who attended a mixer hosted by the PPO on Oct. 18. Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

Ryan Parimi, a junior English major and student coordinator of the PPO, helps plan special events throughout the year, like the presidential debate viewing in the activity center that over 300 students attended.

“We were very pleased with the turnout,” Parimi said. “We want to create the opportunity for students to have the ability to see both sides of something. In the time we live in, it’s really easy and really common to see everything from one point of view.” Parimi encouraged anyone who wants to learn about how our government works and learn about public policy to join the PPO.

Linda Abrams, a faculty member in the Division of History, Government and Social Science and sponsor of PPO, teaches political science courses at BJU, has served on several political campaigns and worked as a political commentator for several national and international media outlets. “My role in the PPO is to provide advice and make sure that the organization stays on track,” Abrams said.

Abrams said the purpose of the PPO is to promote civic responsibility. “Political issues do matter,” Abrams said. “Who we elect and what those people represent is what is put into law.” Abrams said Christians have a civic responsibility to participate and be aware of culture and politics. “We’re trying to look at both sides using critical thinking to come to conclusions about various issues,” Abrams said.