The UCA Learning Commission hosted a Presidential Teach-In session sponsored by the Campus Election Engagement Project Committee on Sept. 20 on the McAlister lawn.
This event kicked off UCA’s “Rock the Vote” week, an effort on campus to generate political substance and participation among students.
The teach-in session was designed and sponsored as a program in which curious students could talk to informed guests and staff members about their questions and concerns without feeling pressure to conform to any precedents or standards.
Canvas blankets were spread around the lawn where fifteen faculty members from various departments occupied the spaces and gave individual mini-seminars to answer questions from interested students about topics relevant to the 2016 election.
A non-partisan atmosphere was created on the lawn to ensure every opinion, whether left-leaning, right-leaning or somewhere in between, could be built upon instead of degraded.
“This is my first election and people always ask me what my political views are,” freshman Brandon Bemis said. “I always feel a little ignorant sometimes because I’m not knowledgeable about this sort of thing. This event provides more of a well-rounded and unbiased approach. It’s an opportunity to see another perspective.”
UCA faculty members discussed pertinent areas that are in the forefront of most students’ minds as they approach the election.
Subjects discussed were mostly social and economic issues and student-led democracy.
Students could learn about the social aspect of the election from faculty discussing such topics such as “#BlackLivesMatter” and “Who Cares About Health Care?”
“Your Student Debt” and “Yes! Education Matters” touched on paying for college, and if it’s worth it after all.
Other interesting topics of conversation that resulted from the teach-in were centered around questions about the roles and rights of individuals in society.
“My Rights, Your Rights” and “Politics & the Millennial Student” were two specific stations where UCA students could learn more about their civic duties.
This event also provided discourse on the similarities, differences, histories and backgrounds of the political opponents now dominating the race for presidency.
Faculty took an unbiased approach to both Clinton and Trump by simply providing factual information, quotes and positions produced an outlet for students, many of whom may not have been informed about the weighty topics of this election.
According to an email from Academic Affairs, this teach-in session was modeled after those held in the 1960s, which were a sort of public forum that welcomed open discussion among the public.
They typically acted to create a conversation about current political affairs, as did the teach-in held on campus.
“It’s sort of like speed dating,” political science professor Gary Wekkin said.
Wekkin, like many other speakers, had three main points with which he prompted conversation.
He also provided non-partisan handouts to inform students of where the different candidates stood on the important issues of today.
For more political events around campus, visit uca.orgsync.com/org/ rockthevote/upcomingevents.
photo by Valentin Sawadogo