Political lecture educates students on upcoming election

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History professor Henry Brand, journalism professor Regina Lawrence, and government professor Daron Shaw spoke to an audience of freshmen on the importance of voting in the upcoming presidential election at Bass Concert Hall Tuesday evening.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

With fewer than 50 days until the U.S. presidential election, first-year students flooded Bass Concert Hall to listen to professors from three different fields offer their take on the race.

The talk, entitled “Election 2012: History, Rhetoric, Politics,” was the second lecture in this year’s University Lecture Series, which aims to give first-year students the chance to interact with acclaimed faculty. History professor Henry Brands, government associate professor Daron Shaw and journalism professor Regina Lawrence spoke about campaign issues related to their respective fields of study.

In the lecture Tuesday night, Brands cautioned students against hoping the new president will be a hero.

“Will President Obama, if reelected, will Governor Romney, if elected, rise to the ranks of a Lincoln or a Roosevelt? You better hope not,” Brands said. “Because if either one does, what that means is that the country will experience some crisis comparable to the Civil War, comparable to the Great Depression.”

Patricia Micks, senior program coordinator for the School of Undergraduate Studies, said the University Lecture Series, which all students enrolled in a first-year signature course are required to attend, aims to promote a dialogue among students and draw their attention to what the campus has to offer.

“The hope is that each lecture will create a campus-wide conversation and will highlight some of the exciting research and scholarly work being produced on our campus,” Micks said.

With a record amount of money being raised and spent this year, Lawrence urged students to not let their voices get drowned out despite the significant and often unappealing role money has in influencing the political conversation.

“When the discussion is dominated by money and by the kinds of political negative non-factual ads that we’ve been talking about tonight, that’s not a very inviting conversation,” Lawrence said. “That doesn’t invite you to take part. Frankly, for a lot of you it’s a turn-off.”

All speakers dedicated part of their time toward encouraging student civic engagement. David Bishop, international relations and global studies freshman, said the talk could encourage students to get involved in the electoral process early.

“I think it’s important for freshmen,” Bishop said. “If they target freshmen as we come in, then we’re engaged in the political process throughout college instead of waiting until we leave to get going on it.”

Printed on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 as: Faculty lecture prepares students for election season