Center for Applied Politics gets statewide attention

The Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics has had its findings featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Lancaster Intelligencer and several other highly respected publications, but many Mercyhurst students don’t know about the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP).

MCAP is a non-partisan political group on campus that works to spread political awareness.

“The idea is to give our students an opportunity to interact with political leaders and contribute in a positive way to public policy and debates,” Brian Ripley, Ph.D., said.

Ripley is in charge of coordinating political speakers who come to campus for MCAP.

Recently, Congressman Mike Kelly participated in a town meeting at Mercyhurst thanks to MCAP.

“We are non-partisan,” said Ripley. “We don’t endorse any candidates. The idea is to give our students an opportunity to interact with political leaders and contribute to public policy and debate.”

The center plans to have a few political speakers attend campus every term.

“We’d like Mercyhurst College to be known as a place where intelligent debate about political issues takes place,” Ripley said.

The other aspect of MCAP, the part that is getting mentioned in big name publications, is the opinion polling.

Since last year, student members of MCAP have been performing telephone research to gather opinions about important political issues from local residents.

“Major papers have picked up results from our research,” Ripley said.

The research is done solely by Mercyhurst students.

Junior Carrie Gambino has been involved with the MCAP opinion polling.

“We call Pennsylvania residents about information regarding issues in the state,” said Gambino. “Specifically, this time, we asked about fracking, the economy and bullying.”

Students must undergo an orientation before they are able to start with the opinion polling, but Gambino recommends the experience.

“It’s definitely an interesting experience listening to people of different walks of life and hearing their opinions about controversial topics,” she said.

The Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics is associated with the political science department, but it is not just for political science majors.

All students are welcome to participate in the program after going through the orientation, and all students are welcome to attend the speakers that are brought to campus by MCAP.

“We’re still new…” said Ripley, “but expect to be seeing more from MCAP.”