With the election year upon us, students at the UIU-Baton Rouge Center who were enrolled in the “U.S. Government” course delved deep into various political issues during the spring semester.
“Personally, I wanted my students to better understand how government works, discover what role they can play in shaping policy, and to share a voice and communicate their concerns with elected officials. I also wanted them to understand the power in their individual vote,” said UIU adjunct professor Courtney Hunt. “My sincerest desire is for them to have a voice in matters that most concern them and society; not just be passive about the process, but to be actively involved in the process.”
Hunt, who also serves as a problem resolution officer for the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), explained that as part of the semester’s curriculum the students watched presidential debates and President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union Address. They discussed the voting process, who they liked as candidates and why, and the key issues in which they were interested.
“I really deviated from the norm because we had so much going at the federal level,” added Hunt. “We also had the death of Chief Justice Antonin Scalia. So they addressed how his passing would affect the Supreme Court, if they thought the current president should nominate his replacement, and if Congress would/should support his nominee.”
The coursework also required writing a letter to President Obama on policy issues about which the individual students were passionate.
Among those students was Latrennia Jones Goins, an Office of Research Support Specialist II with the Louisiana Workforce Commission. While she has yet to receive a response from the president, Goins said she found the course interesting from the first time she walked into the classroom. She said the topics of discussion always kept her attention and made her eager to want to learn more.
“The curriculum certainly helped me play an important role in this ongoing political season, I’m more aware of additional issues and concerns in the government than I have ever been before,” added the sociology major. “The biggest lesson I learned is if I want anything done about the current conditions in my society, then I need to voice my opinion, and the only way my voice or opinion is heard is through voting. While I understood the purpose of voting, it was not until I began studying this course that I realized just how important voting is for me and future generations.”
In her letter to President Obama, Goins shared her concerns about education, jobs, and the economy in Louisiana. Come November, she will help play a part in how those issues are addressed in the future.