Congressmen come to campus


Former US Representative, Tom Ewing visited UNI, along with Berkley Bedell, as part of the Congress to Campus Program

JOSHUA DAUSENER, Copy Editor | [email protected]

Two former US Representatives with over two decades of service in public office between them visited UNI on Monday and Tuesday. Tom Ewing and Berkley Bedell came to UNI’s campus as part of the Congress to Campus Program.

Bedell represented Iowa’s sixth district as a Democrat from 1975 to 1987. Ewing represented Illinois’s 15th district as a Republican from 1991 to 2001.

Congress to Campus is a program put on by the US Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC). The organization sends bipartisan pairs of former elected Congress people to various college and university campuses around the country to talk and work with students in an effort to increase their participation in the democratic process.

“It is intended to try to alert students to the opportunities of public service, and how you can get involved in running for Congress or political office,” Ewing said.

The program allows students to meet former members of Congress face to face and discuss issues related to democracy, ranging from democratic actions as simple as voting or even running for Congress. According to the FMC’s official website,  the program is “an authentic and candid insiders’ look at the workings of American government and politics.”

According to Donna Hoffman, political science department head, the two former representatives met with UNI students in various political science classes, talked with UNI’s ROTC and student veterans group and attended a dinner with leaders from Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG). In addition, both Bedell and Ewing visited students from Peet and Holmes Junior High School and Cedar Falls High School.

“We have a chance to tell them about our experience and the satisfaction we obtained from it, and our perception [of] what the situation is in our nation,” Bedell said. “We’re telling them that we hope they’ll become more involved and maybe run for Congress. We want to tell them that anybody can do it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m trying to tell them that we face terrible problems ahead in our society, in their lifetime.”

Bedell urged students to be involved in the political process, telling students, “You can sit on the sidelines and watch others, or you can get into the game and have some impact on what happens.”

While discussing the issue of taking action in politics, the 2016 election came up in the conversation. Both Bedell and Ewing strongly urged UNI students to practice their right to vote, even if they don’t support either of the two major parties’ candidates.

“I personally think there’s some good reasons to not vote for either of them, but that is absolutely the wrong position to take,” Ewing said. “Your choice isn’t the greatest, but staying home is not a choice. Things aren’t forever; whoever is elected is not going to be there forever. This is a bridge to a better day ahead.”

Bedell also stressed the importance of voting in the presidential election.

“That’s about the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Bedell said of the decision to not vote on election day.