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Student government launches political podcast to encourage discourse

| Friday, November 17, 2017

Student government is revamping the Political Brew initiative with a modern take: a regular podcast that will cover a wide range of issues to educate students and incite political engagement.

The new initiative will begin Sunday with a live event at 2:30 p.m. in Andrews Auditorium in Geddes Hall that will be recorded for the pilot episode podcast and will be released in the near future. The event is open to all students to attend.

Previously, the Political Brew initiative was a monthly event where students gathered to watch the political talk show “Meet the Press” and discuss current events, senior and student government director of community engagement and outreach Adam Moeller said. The Vidal-Devine administration started the program in 2015 to foster conversation between students with differing views. Moeller and the community engagement and 0utreach team have partnered with BridgeND — a campus organization with similar goals of bipartisan discourse — and ND Votes for the revised Political Brew initiative.

“We were tasked by student government leadership to revamp it, bring it back and keep going with that mission to generate good, bipartisan discourse — issue-based discourse,” Moeller said.

The group plans to record some parts of the podcasts live in addition to using some closed interviews.

“We wanted to create more of a brand with it and reach a broader audience,” Moeller said. “There are so many events that happen on Notre Dame’s campus, and we know that people — even if they are interested — can’t always make the time commitment to get there, so that’s why we thought a podcast would be good.”

For the pilot episode, which will center around the topic of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and immigration, a Notre Dame DACA student will talk about her own personal experience. For the second half of the podcast, Moeller said, the group will interview prominent immigration lawyer Reaz Jafri. He said the podcast as a whole will give both a human and legal perspective on the issue from an objective stance, but will give students all of the facts surrounding various issues.

Sophomore Evan DaCosta, moderator of the podcasts, said he is hoping the popularity of the podcast increases as word of it spreads.

“We’re trying to make it something that people can plug in whenever they have some time and listen to it,” DaCosta said. “We’re trying to get it out to a pretty big audience.”

The episodes will center on political topics that relate to college students, Moeller said. The group felt DACA and immigration were prominent issues, DaCosta said, because they affect a number of Notre Dame students.

“I hope that it becomes a long-term thing that has a large audience and that it’s something that continues to grow and will carry on past us,” DaCosta said. “Notre Dame is not as politically active of a school as other schools, so the whole thing is stoking political activism and getting people to talk about what they believe in and stand up for what they believe in, no matter what it is.”

The second episode will cover free speech and political polarization on campus, Moeller said. Political Brew will interview Cass Sunstein, a legal scholar and administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President Obama, for the episode.

“We are hoping if it’s high quality it can be a way for Notre Dame to engage on a more national level,” Moeller said. “For Notre Dame students to show that college students can think critically about these issues, but also that college students are very divided about these issues just like everyone else.”

Some students tend to shy away from political engagement due to the negativity of politics and the perception that there is more focus on winning than actual progress and improvement for the country, Moeller said. The Political Brew podcasts, he said, will be a way to educate students about current issues and encourage them to become more engaged.

“Why people should be more open to bipartisan, productive, issue-based discourse is that hopefully this is the way we want our politics to turn in the future,” Moeller said. “You can be a part of building a better country where we can talk and actually make things happen, and where we can respect every member of our broader national community.”

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