Mississippi College

Mississippi College Students Learn Political Lessons

September 25, 2008

Presidential politics suddenly became the focus in professor Cliff Fortenberry's class Thursday afternoon at Mississippi College.

Fortenberry, chairman of the MC Department of Communication, switched gears when WAPT reporter and anchor Desare Frazier visited his class at Aven Hall.

Frazier and cameraman James Foster of the ABC affiliate in Jackson quizzed the MC students about Friday's presidential debate at the University of Mississippi. The Wall Street financial crisis and plans in Congress to hammer out a $700 billion bailout package caused Republican nominee John McCain to seek a postponement of the debate with Democrat Barack Obama.

Some like MC senior Jessica Daves, 21, of Black Hawk, said she believes McCain is doing the right thing to put his country first and try to work out a solution to the financial crisis.

Others like MC graduate student Holladay Burnham, 22, of Brandon said she is a McCain supporter, but wonders why he cannot "multi-task." The Arizona senator has time to work on the problems in Washington and fly to Mississippi for the debate Friday evening, she said.

Ole Miss supporters have spent $5.5 million to bring the first presidential debate to the Oxford campus. Everybody from Chancellor Robert Khayat to Ole Miss undergraduates and Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth are hoping the debate goes on as scheduled.

If the debate at Ole Miss doesn't happen, that will be a disappointment, said MC senior Jonathan Dillon, 24, a senior from Houston, Texas. "It will be a letdown for everybody."

While the debate about the presidential debate heats up, Fortenberry said having it in Mississippi is the chance to show the nation and the world the progress in the state over the last 50 years. Ole Miss admitted the first African-American student, James Meredith, to the university in 1962 amid riots that left two dead. Now, Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, has made history as the first African-American presidential nominee of a major American political party.

No matter whether they are Republican, Democrat or independent, Fortenberry told MC students it is important to vote in the Nov. 4 election. "If you don't get involved, don't whine."

Once the WAPT crew left the class in 105 Aven, Fortenberry returned to teaching about media programming and management.

PHOTO: Cameraman James Foster and Desere Frazier from Channel 16 News interviewing students in Dr. Cliff Fortenberry's communication class.

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