Sage Kiernan-Sherrow | News Editor
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, assistant professor of politics, policy and administration, Earlene Camarillo, sent a campus-wide email advertising an opportunity for students to act as Western’s ambassadors during the Congress to Campus event set to occur from Feb. 11–13.
According to Camarillo, President Rex Fuller and Provost Rob Winningham later collaborated with Dr. Mary Pettenger after discovering the program, stating that it “sounds like a great opportunity for Western, especially in today’s climate of strong partisanship.”
Congress to Campus is an existing government program which provides an “opportunity to interact with former Members of Congress through a program designed to attract young people to public service” and addresses “concerns about the lack of civic literacy among America’s young people and declining participation in politics,” according to its official website at stennis.gov.
Camarillo expanded on the idea of civil literacy, stating that it is “the idea that we engage with one another in conversation,” and that, in a democracy, “theoretically, everyone should feel comfortable expressing their opinions.” The Congress to Campus program supports this by sending one Republican and one Democrat representative to “promote the idea that you have to speak with one another,” said Camarillo.
Camarillo mentioned the media’s role in misinforming the public and framing the government as overly bipartisan, saying that “there is a lack of clarity on how our system actually works,” and citing the statistic that “only 30% of people can name the three branches of our government.”
Throughout the program’s duration on campus, there will be two events held on Feb. 12 that are open to the general student population. One is set to occur at 2 p.m. and will be an alumni panel dedicated to addressing the topic of public service, and the other is set for 7 p.m. and will be a public forum where students and faculty can ask questions of the president and former Congressmen.
Camarillo hopes that this event will promote interest in public service careers and stated, “we really want to encourage people across all disciplines,” to apply and attend the panels, stressing that the information being presented will be “important regardless of what career you’re going into.”
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