Longwood University students seize the debate

More than 1,000 students at Longwood are now taking classes that are looking at the campaign.

FARMVILLE, VA (WUSA9) - Millions of people are expected to tune into the Vice Presidential debate October 4th. It’s the first time Longwood University has ever hosted one, and it’s a huge deal for the just over 5-thousand students there. The school has figured out an interesting way to take advantage of its front row to history.

More than one thousand students at Longwood are now taking classes that are looking at the campaign. And not just in the obvious sort of classes like photography, where the students have hit the campaign trail and had remarkable access to the candidates. “Seeing the stuff first hand is really special,” said art professor Michael Mergen.

They’re also looking at the election in less obvious classes, like beginning French. The language students are tweeting in French about the hordes of media that have descended on campus to tweet about them.

This third oldest university in Virginia says its core mission is producing “citizen leaders.” “I have to write a paper on what they say about citizenship and how we’re going to deal with it,” said student Evelyn Marshal.

In a campaign sometimes lacking in civility, there can be a lesson there too. “I’ve been turned off by what the candidates have said on both sides,” said student Christian Reifstek.  “An uncivil campaign offers you an opportunity to think about what does it look like when things go wrong,” said English professor Derek Taylor.

And maybe an opportunity to think about how all of us can make it go right.


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