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Inauguration an eye-opening experience for three Binghamton students

By : Katie Ellis

Junior Susan Gallo and senior Matthew Schneider visited the World War II memorial while attending the Inside Washington í05 program on politics, the media and the inauguration in Washington D.C. in January, posing before the memorialís New York column.
When the opportunity arose last fall to apply to attend an academic seminar on the presidential administration and inauguration, three Binghamton Scholars jumped at the chance. Junior Susan Gallo and seniors Eric Lantz and Matthew Schneider were chosen to travel to Washington, D.C. for the intensive program — Inside Washington ’05.

Gallo and Schneider attended the entire two-week program, with Lantz joining the second week of the program after his return from a semester of study in the Netherlands.

The program’s first week, subtitled “Politics and the Media,” featured widely recognized media representatives, as well as others who spoke about public policy.

“We would wake up in the morning and up until lunch time, we would hear from two to three speakers ranging from Ted Koppel to big names in the D.C. area,” said Schneider. “We met with Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, Sam Donaldson and Ann Compton from ABC, some people from public policy places and we talked about politics and the media, the media’s responsibility and the political process, and we reflected on the past year’s activities.” Students were grouped together by major, so Schneider, a business management major, and Gallo, a global management major, found themselves in the same group. As a philosophy, politics and law major, Lantz was grouped with political sciences majors.

“It was really exciting for me,” said Lantz. “I had never gotten a real taste of Washington politics before, and it was interesting for me to experience a real, conservative environment.”

Gallo has a strong interest in the media and came away with a lot from the first week’s sessions.

“I realized people have all sorts of views,” she said. “We had great conversations and debates, and just talking and hearing a different point of view from everyone was beneficial.”

“One thing I learned is that maybe people in Bush’s second term will focus on the domestic side,” Lantz said. “Social issues are the main focus of the cultural revolution now and people have really strong stances and will defend them.”

Schneider, president of Binghamton’s Student Association, who plans to pursue a career that combines politics and the media, was affected by the total experience.

“Overall, I liked the excitement of the area. News is breaking and that’s the place where it breaks,” he said. “I realized that it’s a place I could see myself working in and being part of in the future.”

Each afternoon the students went on site visits.

“We went to the International Monetary Fund, Accuracy in the Media and a number of embassies including Grenada and Saudi Arabia,” said Gallo. “We were in the audience for Crossfire.”

They also attended a performance by Mark Russell at Ford’s Theater. The focus of the program’s second week was the inauguration. “We heard from the head of the Smithsonian about the history of the inauguration and how presidents have handled it,” said Lantz.

“For me, I enjoyed hearing that,” said Gallo, “because I went into it thinking the money could be used for victims of the tsunami and things like that, but it made me realize how important tradition is to the country.”

The program’s grand finale was the inauguration itself. All three attended and dealt with the intensive security.

“We got there very, very early and were in the front of the standing room section,” said Gallo. “They had big TVs and there was a great sense of excitement seeing the president sworn in. It was a wonderful experience.” Schneider also attended the Celebration of Freedom concert the night before the inauguration. “I won one of 10 raffle tickets to attend and so I was up close for the concert when the president and vice president spoke,” he said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08