Randolph-Macon College: The Center of the Political Universe
Congressional Race Between Professors Offers A Living Civics Lesson
During the 2014 midterm elections, Randolph-Macon College added to its rich political history by becoming the first college in modern times to have two professors campaigning against one another for a congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The town of Ashland's affectionate "Center of the Universe" moniker was dubbed the "Center of the 'Political' Universe" to reflect this unique race.
R-MC Attracts National and International Media Attention
Media pundits descended upon the R-MC campus immediately following the June 10, 2014 Republican primary in the VA 7th District race when R-MC Economics Professor David Brat upset the incumbent, Republican Eric Cantor. One day earlier, another R-MC faculty member, Professor Jack Trammel, announced his candidacy for the same race to represent the Democratic Party.
The stage was set. As R-MC's two professors began campaigning, the college was again deluged with attention from national media to include The Washington Post, CNN, FOX News, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
As the two professor vied for the congressional seat, R-MC seized the opportunity to bring this "living civics lesson" to life. On October 28, 2014, Randolph-Macon hosted a historic debate between Professors Brat and Trammell in a packed Blackwell Auditorium, R-MC Center for the Performing Arts. Debate watch parties were held in various locations on campus and the debate was streamed on the R-MC website as well as on those of media organizations to include the local NBC and CBS affiliates, WCVE/NPR and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. C-SPAN also carried the debate live on its website and aired the event on its main station.
The R-MC community embraced the unique learning opportunities provided to students who had a rare front-row seat to witness political history. Faculty offered seminars in political leadership, government leaders such as U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and U.S. Congressman J. Randy Forbes '74 visited campus to engage students in conversations about key legislative issues and world affairs, and students and faculty joined in the discussion through blogs reflecting their diverse perspectives about the political scene.
On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, R-MC students participated in exit polls in Hanover County and the community came together for an election night watch party in R-MC's student center, Brock Commons. The Chronicle of Higher Education stayed for the evening to cover the engagement of R-MC students and faculty. That night, Randolph-Macon College Professor David Brat was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Virginia's 7th District.
Election Perspectives from the Randolph-Macon College Community
By: Henry Ashton, '15
This blog post was originally posted on R-MC's The Yellow Jacket
When the candidates entered Blackwell Auditorium at 7:25pm, the effect was immediate.
The entire room stood up, eager to show their appreciation for Professors Brat and Trammell from Randolph-Macon, who have given much to the college as faculty and have been participants in the exhausting campaign cycle since June.
For a moment on Oct. 28, time seemed to stand still.
The enthusiastic reaction from the audience expressed an uncommon connection with the candidates: although many political debates end up as stuffy, formal affairs, this one was the culmination of a political shock that threw R-MC into the media’s fishbowl.
By: Allison Carpenter, '16 President of R-MC College Republicans and John Rackey, '15 President of R-MC Young Democrats
The Randolph-Macon College Young Democrats and College Republicans have been compromising and overcoming typical partisan roadblocks. Both organizations have been working closely together during the historic election for the Virginia 7th Congressional seat. Both organizations’ presidents have the same general goal in mind, to educate not only our own members, but also other students on campus about political issues and why it is important to be politically active. R-MC Young Democrats and College Republicans have already worked together and are continuing to work together to re-introduce civility into politics, much like Dr. Brat and Dr. Trammell have done through this campaign. Already, both groups have enjoyed an ice cream social together, and we plan to host a voting registration drive together in the spring.
"Randolph-Macon College has a rich history of faculty, staff and students making significant contributions to our government and our society." - President Robert R. Lindgren
Profiles in Politics
As a program specialist with the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency, Chad Ryerson ’05 serves as the point of contact for 350 intermittent emergency management reservists within the agency’s Recovery Directorate.