JACKSON, Tenn. – July 16, 2004– The national political conventions will become a classroom experience for two Union University students and one professor.
Through the Washington Center, Ross Mitchell, a senior political science major from Selmer, Tenn., was selected to attend the Democratic National Convention, July 26-29 in Boston, Mass. Matt Oshel, of Harrisburg, Ill., is also a senior majoring in political science; he will attend the Republican National Convention, Aug. 30-Sept. 3, in New York City. Sean Evans, assistant professor of political science, was selected to lead a seminar at the Republican convention for students chosen to attend the program.
Participants in The Washington Center’s Campaign 2004 arrive one week prior to their respective party’s convention. The first week consists of seminars that will prepare students for the convention week as they discuss the campaign in general. In the second week, students attend seminars in the morning and do field work in the afternoons and evenings. Field work assignments include media organizations, party delegations, interest groups and other political groups. The purpose is to allow students first-hand experience of various aspects of the convention.
Oshel will work with the Illinois state delegation. Mitchell said he will not receive his assignment until he arrives in Boston, Sunday, July 18, but he hopes to work with the Tennessee delegation.
“The seminars will help them to relate their individual experiences to the larger dynamics of the convention and campaign,” Evans said.
Seminar sessions are led by faculty from colleges and universities across the nation and will include discussion of Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election, 3rd edition, by Stephen J. Wayne. Both the students and faculty are chosen through a competitive process.
For Mitchell, potential for networking made the program a welcome prospect.
“Dr. Evans, my advisor, was the major influence,” Mitchell said. “He approached me one day and asked, ‘What would you say if you got a chance to meet some Democratic leaders and possibly establish some networks with them?’ I could not refuse that offer.”
Evans is excited about the opportunities afforded to the students by the Washington Center program.
“I would have loved to have done something like this,” he said. “Obviously, I’ve always been a political junkie.
“It’s networking; it’s first hand experience. Just think of the kinds of people they’re going to meet there – media, elected officials. This is their opportunity to see a major political event up-close and personal. Just open your eyes and you will learn. Even for someone with a Ph.D. in political science, this is a learning experience for me as well,” Evans said.
Evans’ enthusiasm is shared by Oshel.
“I am excited about being in New York City for two weeks and being around all of these important people,” he said. “I believe the most challenging part of the convention will be making sure that I fit everything I want to experience into my schedule.”