SMU students cover Presidential Inauguration

A group of 21 SMU communications and journalism students are in Washington, D.C., where they have an up-close view of the Presidential Inauguration.

Led by Professor Rita Kirk and Assistant Professor Dan Schill in the Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs in the Meadows School of the Arts, the students are spending 5 days in Washington beginning January 17, 2009, as part of the CCPA course Presidential Rhetoric. In addition to witnessing President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, the students’ trip will include:

  • Volunteering at the Texas State Society’s Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball
  • Viewing a debate on energy and climate change between debate team powerhouses Michigan State and Wake Forest
  • A visit to the Newseum, where they will hear “Inside Media:  Presidential To Do’s,” a speech from former presidential adviser Stephen Hess
  • Visits to the nation’s museums and monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, where a concert will feature notables including Martin Luther King III and Beyoncé

Kirk has been attending the Inauguration with students since 1992. Since 2000, students have also worked as volunteers at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. She says the experiences give students an appreciation of the U.S. system of government. “After a sometimes bitterly fought campaign, people join together to inaugurate the president,” she says. “This peaceful transition of power is a hallmark of democracy.”

Students also become aware of rhetorical power, she says.”They learn how the carefully planned, symbolic ceremonies – as well as the power of words – mold and shape our experiences,” she says.”They examine the implications of the classical term ‘memoria’ – that is, what we are called to remember.”

Watch a Channel 33 report on the students video
Read the students’ blogs from Washington, D.C.