Political science students interview congressman for network program
By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Shenandoah University political science students were up bright and early Thursday for their live-taping experience on the C-SPAN "Campaign 2012" bus.
Ten students were given the chance to interview Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on issues surrounding the country's economy. While the students tried to prepare questions beforehand that focused on that topic, they also fit in questions about foreign affairs and the upcoming election.
Collin Sack, a 20-year-old political science and criminal justice major, asked about political special interest groups and if the public can rely on them to make good decisions based on "the common good of the people."
"I especially wanted to know for college kids like us, and if we'll have jobs and money in our own economy," he said. "He gets money from special interest too, so he kind of shied away from the question."
However, Sack gave the congressman credit for answering all the parts of every question that came from the students and those who called in.
Sack wasn't the first student to ask a question, so he said he wasn't too nervous when it was his turn.
However, Megan Haff, a 23-year-old political science major still had butterflies before the taping started.
"Of course I was nervous, who wouldn't be," she said afterward. "But it was a lot of fun ... definitely something different. It was neat to see how the process works with television and interviews."
Haff asked Garrett about the country's budget.
"We haven't passed one in three years, so I asked him if a change in presidency would aid the passing of a budget," she said. "He absolutely thinks it would. He made an adamant point in saying that the House of Representatives has passed a budget, but not the Senate."
Haff felt confident the students did well under the circumstances.
"I think this will show the U.S. that we are smart people," she said. "There's a bias that young people aren't informed, don't care and don't pay attention ... but we do."
Sack, who is also the president of the university's Political Science Society, said he's always working to get students outside the major interested and informed on important topics.
"It's not a subject for everybody, but it's good to have some basic understanding," he said. "And really, C-SPAN is a great resource for that and a good experience all around. The bus teaches about media, business, political ideology ... it meets the needs of a lot of students."
Dr. William Shendow, chair of Shenandoah's Political Science department, was happy with his students' performance.
"They did marvelous. The answers they got ... well, the answers were very partisan, but I'm pleased with their questions," he said. "I'm hoping that they and other students who visit the bus will become more engaged in the political process. That's the whole point of our program."
Shendow said C-SPAN was a good presence on campus, calling it "one of the most credible media centers in our country today."
"That's one thing that's changed in my lifetime. Media resources have become mostly partisan, but this group is all about an exchange of ideas, which is what the political process should be about," he said.
When taping finished, the bus opened up from 10 a.m. until noon to several groups of students who received a presentation on how C-SPAN works. An interactive space was also open in the front of the bus for those who wanted a quick look.
"This is an educational vehicle for students and the general public," said Josh Koning, a C-SPAN Education Content Specialist. "We want people to be aware of the different ways they can connect with us. We're more than just a TV resource. For us, it's important that we provide access to what's going on so students know what their representatives are doing, as a non-partisan network."
Koning added that C-SPAN doesn't edit or comment on their political coverage.
The bus's next stop is Hagerstown, where it will visit community college and high school campuses, as well as the 150th anniversary events at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md.
Jessica Lindquist, C-SPAN's Marketing Representative, said the university's students were "incredible" during their morning interviews.
"Their questions were phenomenal, some of them were so over my head," she said. "It just shows that we do have an informed population, and having this bus and our websites as resources can only help."
To view the video, visit www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Reserveth.