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ISU Hosts National Watch Party For State Of The Union Address

More than 300 college students and twin city residents took part in a watch party at Illinois State University for President Obama’s State of the Union Address. ISU became the national hub for a live webcast sent out to nearly 500 campuses in the United States. 

Heartland Community College Student Hetal Bhirawani says she is impressed with the younger generation. “We are all interested in politics, and we want to know where we are going, where our future is going, and what the people in authority are doing to secure our future.”

The event featured a civic engagement fair to encourage attendees to get more involved in politics and government, free food, the speech and rebuttal, and live panels. ISU Student Elizabeth Lindsey, who spoke on one of the panels, says it’s important to find ways to reach out to students.

“Events like this, held at college campuses, and, definitely, organizations like the American Democracy Project, they definitely help get students more engaged as well as just different other opportunities around campus.”

Students and others participated by using Twitter, which was being tracked by Illinois State University’s Social Media Analytics Command Center.

HCC Student Catalina Melgar says social media allows ideas to spread more quickly. “It allows for our opinions to be sent out faster and heard by a lot more people than we would face to face. So I think it’s an improvement in technology in how our generation can communicate in other ways that past generations couldn’t.”

Wheaton College Graduate Jacob Snodgrass says social media can help extend the reach of politics, but that it can also create a problem.

“It can make people feel involved, but, also, it can feel like pandering to people our age. I think that, I don’t know, I think that’s definitely a delicate balance to strike. I think, as a general term, it is helpful, because young people, we always our phones, we always have apps.”

ISU partnered with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project, The Democracy Commitment, iCitizen, the School of Communication, and others to put on the nationwide event.

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