Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration

Twenty-one communication studies and journalism students are in Washington, D.C., in January 2013 as part of the Meadows School of the Arts’ Hilltop on the Hill program. In addition to reporting on Inaugural events, the students will visit media and government sites, and meet with political communicators, journalists and SMU alumni. The trip is led by Rita Kirk, professor of communication studies; Daniel Schill, assistant professor of communication studies, and Carolyn Barta, journalism professor. Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions and the G8 Economic Summit.

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Experiencing history

An update from Savannah, a junior majoring in communications and history:

Savannah and Mary-Ashley at the Capitol

When I decided to join this inaugural trip, I did so to be a “part of history.” However, who knows what that means?

Was I a part of the 1 million gathered to watch as the president was sworn in for a second time? Yes. But, what does it communicate? That I was a good citizen who cared about the democratic process, or was I a kid who loves losing feeling in her extremities? Well, as a delicate Southern girl who can’t handle anything below 70 degrees, I can say with assurance that it wasn’t the latter.

Instead, I stood in the middle of the Mall on January 21 to indeed be a part of history. As a double major in communications and history, people often give me an odd look when I tell them my concoction of majors. But, being here I have realized that Washington, D.C., is, in fact, the nexus of both.

Take, for example, the Capitol building. It has seen great men and women debating the matters of the day. That is still the case, but the Capitol refuses to be a shrine to the past. Instead, it is a place in which the “here and now” exists. Sitting in the House, you get the sense of urgency to tackle our next big debates: the debt, the question of gun control, and possibly immigration. But, when you walk thorough the halls you see quotes from the public servants who preceded us – like James Madison, Louis Brandeis, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt – and are reminded that our challenges can be overcome, much like theirs.

Here’s hoping that these next few years, people in D.C. take a page from history and decide that compromise isn’t a dirty word, instead using this new chapter for not only D.C. but for America as well.

At the Lincoln Memorial

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