While more than 400 Kansas University students gathered in Lawrence to watch and discuss Tuesday's third presidential debate, about 30 others were in St. Louis protesting the exclusion of the Green Party and its issues.
Galen Turner of the KU Green Party met Ralph Nader at a party function Tuesday afternoon before joining marches and protesters outside the hall where the debate between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George Bush would take place Tuesday night.
"We were all supposed to walk up and enter a caged area they wanted us in for the protest. The Kansas and Missouri Green Party started a line across the road, and we were joined by everyone in the caged area," Turner said.
The Lawrence and Kansas City contingent joined about 500 others in decrying the nation's predominant two-party system.
"We mainly want to get people to check into the candidates and look into their backgrounds. We'd like to get as many votes as we can, because each vote scares the major parties," he said. "I think Bush is worse than Gore, but I do not see as much difference as I would like ... they look more and more similar."
Dee Berry, who has been involved with the Green Party since 1984, said the protesters could care less what Bush and Gore had to say.
"It's not relevant to our lives or relevant to society," she said. "The message is we resent the fact the debates were closed to alternative ideas."
In the Kansas Union Ballroom, however, KU graduate student Karen Anderson was helping to organize a viewing of the debate. Under the guidance of Diana Carlin, dean of graduate studies, KU has sponsored discussions of the debates for DebateWatch 2000.
"Some people are here simply because they are interested. Some are in a presidential debate place," Anderson said. "Others are involved in Student Senate. This is the biggest DebateWatch in the nation."
KU freshman Robert Zernickow, a Republican, said he felt Bush benefited the most from the debate's town-hall format.
"I think the setting works for Gov. Bush. It puts Gore on edge when he sees Bush winking and smiling at the crowd," he said.