Liberal Arts Week Event: on “Voting in America”

Written by William Moessinger

October 14 at 7 pm in the Glickman Center, the Academic Affairs committee of Liberal Arts Council organized “Voting in America,” one of several events comprising Liberal Arts Week, which sought to increase voter participation and political awareness among UT students. Students who attended were provided with free pizza and an opportunity to engage with Dr. Bob Jensen.

Dr. Jensen has spent the last 23 years at the university teaching journalism and media ethics while building a prolific career as a nonfiction author, tackling subjects like race, gender and United States foreign policy. Besides this, Dr. Jensen actively participates in student luncheons and discussions outside of his own classroom, making him a perfect candidate for an event like this. He spent the first half hour ruminating on issues such as: the difference between left-of-center liberals like Bernie Sanders and true leftists like Noam Chomsky, the ecological unsustainability of perpetual economic growth, and the inherent conflict between capitalism and democracy.

‘So how do you deal with an economic system and a political system that are incompatible?’

         “Money is politics, meaning the distribution of wealth in a country affects the distribution of power among people,” Dr. Jensen said. “Capitalism has always been a wealth concentrating system. Democracy is a system that’s supposed to promote political equality. So how do you deal with an economic system and a political system that are incompatible?”

The second half hour offered a chance for students to ask Dr. Jensen questions about everything from his own personal ideologies to his thoughts on the country’s current political climate.

‘what I heard that night and the conclusions I have drawn will shape, in some small way, my own political belief system for years to come.’

         One student asked, “if you were in charge what alternative economic or political system would you put in place?” Another asked, “looking at the Obama administration’s recent efforts to censor journalists for the purpose of ‘national security,’ do you think that freedom of the press has lately been jeopardized, or has this always been the case?” Jensen always answered candidly and thoughtfully, and some students left with a new political perspective altogether.

“I can’t speak for the rest of the people in the audience,” said Apoorva Mahajan, “but what I heard that night and the conclusions I have drawn from it will shape, in some small way, my own political belief system for years to come.”

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