Congress to Campus event promotes involvement, public service to students
Central Michigan University students had the chance to discuss the election and current politics Monday with two former members of Congress.
Barbara Kennelly, D-Conn., and Steve Kuykendall, R-Calif., visited campus as part of a program called Congress to Campus, where former members of Congress from both parties pair together to speak to colleges about politics and the values of a public service career.
“The program is designed to encourage students to think about the joy of public service,” said Joyce Baugh, program coordinator and political science professor.
Program moderator Maxine Berman, a political science Griffin Endowed Chair, started the panel by discussing the fact that many Americans don’t even follow politics anymore, as opposed to in the past when politics was different.
Kennelly said she believes the problem with politics today lies in the belief that there can be no compromise.
“There is no compromise, whatsoever,” she said. “Part of it is a lack of respect for what you are. I can only hope that Congress finally gets the message that they are not doing their jobs.”
Congressman Kuykendall said the change in modern politics is not something that should come from politicians.
He said members of Congress are the only politicians who are directly elected by the public, so people should utilize them more to voice their opinions.
“I think that change is something that will only be changed by the voters,” he said. "Don't ever think (as a voter) that your personal voice doesn't count."
When the topic of the value of public service jobs arose, Kennelly said public service jobs are important to enact change in America.
“They are one of the only ways we can carry out our Constitution. If we don’t have an active body, we can’t do that,” Kennelly said.
For those looking to go into politics, Kuykendall said it is important to get involved in communities first, in order to establish a name for oneself.
“What you do is get active,” he said. “You’re only going to get elected to office if you’re active in your community.”
Linden senior Nick Caldwell found the panel discussion informative and relevant to modern politics.
“It was very interesting to hear (the members of Congress' perspective of) how they would solve a lot of today’s issues,” he said.
Nigerian political science graduate assistant Eve Famutimi said she found the event relevant to her coursework.
“It was pretty interesting and informative,” she said. “It involves a lot of what we’re learning in our classes, so I found it relevant.”