Students Make Waves with Policymakers

Government Department faculty member Brad Bannon holds mic as student quizzes radio talk show guest.

9/28/2011

Students peppered legislators and opinion leaders with questions about the environment, casino gambling, and other critical issues during an on-campus session that took them out of the classroom and onto the radio waves.

Briana Philips, a freshman in the Government Department ’s Introduction to American Democracy course, asked state Rep. Frank Smizik (D-Brookline) for his reaction to a recent delay in implementing more stringent EPA emissions regulations.

“Can you speak to whether this will help the economy, as (deregulation supporters) think it will?” she asked.

Smizik, chair of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate, said he couldn’t see how pulling back on EPA regulations can help the economy, while enforcing the law to create a cleaner environment and exploring green energy can lead to innovation and new jobs.

The exchange took place when “The Jeff Santos Show,” which airs on AM 1510/Revolution Boston, stopped by Suffolk University. Nearly 50 Government students were on hand for the live remote broadcast of the show, which focuses on local, state, and national issues.

Santos’s guest list for the two-hour show also included State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz; Brian Rosman, research director at Health Care for All; John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine; and Professor Rachael Cobb, chair of the University’s Government Department. The guests engaged with students in discussions about a range of topics, including education, health care, and politics at large.

“Being able to interact with the guests and be part of the show was great,” said junior Tim Griffin, who hopes to enter the political arena someday.

Brad Bannon, who teaches the course, said he always looks for different ways to get his students interested and involved, and he saw their engagement in the live political radio show as a success.

“The message I’m always trying to send to my students is that government works best when Americans actually participate,” said Bannon, who, in addition to teaching, hosts the “Brunch with Brad” political talk show at 11 a.m. Sundays on AM 1510.

“Watching how excited my students were taking part in today’s show was exactly what I hoped for when putting this format together,” he said.

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