How to Fill Gaston Hall
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, November 1, 2013 00:11
Although it seems that incessantly talking politics is a way of life on the Hilltop, students seldom take advantage of myriad chances to talk one on one with the subjects of said political banter.
The fact that members of Congress and other policymakers frequent our campus is a privilege of our location in the capital; our luck is only increased by frequent, direct access to them. On Tuesday, for instance, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) (SFS ’66, LAW ‘69) returned to Gaston Hall to deliver a lecture on immigration reform. All students hailing from Illinois were invited to the event, as well as to a post-lecture meet and greet with the senator. But the intriguing event suffered from relatively weak attendance overall. This type of chance for students to interact with their representatives is valuable and more should be done to promote and publicize such programs.
By changing the manner in which programmers reach out to student constituents, perhaps with more personalized emails or by employing social media invitations on Facebook, event planners could increase the likelihood of a high turnout, filled with attendees who are likely to ask informed, intelligent questions. More students would savor the chance to meet their federal representatives if notices of existing opportunities were better disseminated.
Visits from local representatives challenge students to keep up with the politics of their hometown — often difficult in the fast-paced college bubble. But at a school with such frequent big-name visitors, it becomes easy to tune out lecture announcements and invitations. A better way of publicizing events — and thereby matching undergraduates with their visiting representatives — would substantially increase attendance and more importantly, political participation.