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American Democracy Project at RIC

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Congress to Campus
October 16 & 17, 2017

On October 16 & 17, 2017 two former members of Congress will visit Rhode Island College to discuss the state of politics and to participate in a variety of forums. Congress to Campus, a prestigious program in which RIC was selected to participate, is sponsored by the Stennis Center for Public Service, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress. We are honored to welcome former U.S. Congressional Representatives Loretta Sánchez, (D-CA 1997-2016) and Gil Gutknecht, (R-MN 1994-2006) to campus.

All forums listed below are open to faculty, staff, and students at RIC as well as to the greater Rhode Island community. If faculty wish to bring their classes to the event, please email or call Valerie Endress (456. 4781; vendress@ric.edu) to reserve seating.


Congress, Bipartisanship, and Governing Across the Divide
Monday, Oct 16, 10 - 11:50 a.m. in Alger Hall 110

The nature of politics seems to have changed from the days since President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill worked together in the spirit of bipartisanship and compromise. We note that political differences appear to be much more distinct and influential in the day-to-day business of Congress and, too, the rivalry and enmity between parties would seem almost irreconcilable. Are we to continue in a negative spiral? Or, can the trend be reversed? Our distinguished panel will discuss the trends, how it impacts governing and what, if anything, can change the present state of affairs.

Moderator: Bill Rappleye, NBC10 Political Reporter
Panelists: David Cicilline, U.S. Rep. RI (pending confirmation); Gil Gutknecht, Former U.S. Rep. MN; James Langevin, U.S. Rep. RI; Loretta Sánchez, Former U.S. Rep. CA; Sheldon Whitehouse U.S. Sen. RI (pending confirmation)


Paradigm Shift? Millennials in Politics
Monday, Oct. 16,   2 - 3:50 p.m. in Alger Hall 110

With keynote remarks by Seth Magaziner, RI General Treasurer

Much has been written about Millennials and their influence on the political landscape. Some believe that Millennials in control will mean decreased support for formal party politics and increased participation at the community level through the powers of social media and activism. Issues such as the environment, affordable health care, social justice, and education rise to the top of their list of concerns. Their reputation reflects an emerging and distinct identity of civic activism that bears examination and understanding. This panel of Millennial officeholders will discuss what they believe will be the most important contributions of this generation to the political landscape.

Moderator: Edwin R. Pacheco, RIC Interim VP of College Advancement and External Relations
Panelists: Suzy Alba, Town Councilwoman, Smithfield, RI; James Diossa, Mayor of Central Falls, RI; Dawn Euer, RI State Sen.; Amelia Keane, NH State Rep; Stephen Levin, Councilman New York City
Response: Gil Gutknecht, Former U.S. Rep. (MN); Loretta Sánchez, Former U.S. Rep. (CA)


From Your House to the White House:
Political Bullying in our Daily Lives
Tuesday, Oct. 17 9:30-11:30 a.m. in Sapinsley Hall

The U.S. Department of Education defines bullying as "making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose." That's a relatively standard definition and one used by many schools to teach students about appropriate behavior. And, students are beginning to embrace the message. Yet, in the political arena and especially in the rough-and-tumble environment of a campaign, political talk is dominated by a strategy of personal attack. Add to that an environment in which journalists have become increasingly aggressive, and members of Congress bully colleagues on a daily basis. We now have all the ingredients for a cultural decline in civility. How do we deal with the contradiction between school and politics? How do we talk to our friends, our classmates, our relatives about politics in such an environment? How we engage with others and how we encourage civil, open, and honest reflection and debate about politics is the subject of this forum. Students will hear from two former members of Congress about the necessity to restore civility, they will participate in discussion about the topic, and will interact with a panel of experts on how we can “talk politics” with an eye to listening and learning from the perspectives of others.

Moderator: Victor Capellan, Central Falls RI School District Superintendent
Panelists: Sandra Cano, Pawtucket, RI City Councilwoman; Anna Cano-Morales, RIC Associate VP for Community, Equity and Diversity; Gil Gutknecht, Former U.S. Rep (MN); Pegah Rahmanian, Executive Director of Youth in Action; Charon Rose, Director of Outreach, Rhode Island General Treasurer; Loretta Sánchez, Former U.S. Rep. (CA).


Hashtag Politics: The Dominance of Social Media
Tuesday, Oct. 17 2:00-3:50 in Alger Hall 110

President Trump employs Twitter, almost to the exclusion of all other forms of communication. Political candidates must mount a social media campaign if they are to reach the voters. Constituents have come to expect officeholders to engage them regularly on social media. In turn, social media has become an important form of feedback gauging public opinion. Clearly, most of us have become Internet-savvy, yet we are now just beginning to understand the implications for political communication. This panel will explore the implications of this unique form of information gathering and activism. Panelists will also discuss how the ever-increasing use of social media influences the political landscape.

Moderator: Kate Nagle, GoLocalProv News Editor
Panelists: Aaron Regunberg, RI State Rep.; Patricia Resende, NBC10 I-Team Digital Reporter; Tim Staskiewicz, Director of Digital Media for CBS Radio in Boston; Loretta Sánchez, Former U.S. Rep. (CA)

Page last updated: October 03, 2017