There are many things I love about being a college professor, but one of the best parts is that my life revolves around the energy, the schedule, and the experiences of college campuses. Never does this become more relevant than March.
It being March meant that while this was a week full of presidential politics, international instability, rising gas prices, and draconian laws limiting women’s basic rights – it also meant spring break, and the start of the NCAA basketball tournament.
For me, spring break does not mean Cancun – it means the chance to read some of the many books piling up on my nightstand. I absolutely lost myself in Scott Farris’ “Almost President: the Men Who Lost the Race But Changed the Nation.” I loved the book so much that we invited Scott to be a guest on Saturday. I can’t wait for the chance to talk with him about how often we focus exclusively on winners and forget all of the ways that “political losers” actually have the power to change conversations, set agendas and alter the course of history.
And speaking of winners and losers, I followed President Obama’s lead, and spent a few hours completing my own NCAA tournament bracket.
Having grown up at the University of Virginia and graduated from both Wake Forest and Duke, my basketball loyalties are firmly with the ACC. Still, as I made my predictions about the outcomes of these games, I couldn’t help but to think about the students who are also players and all the challenges they face in balancing the life of college student and highly visible athlete. We are going to engage that conversation this weekend too.
But the stories that really moved me this week are those that will materially change the lives of my students. The restrictive voter-ID laws sweeping the country will have little impact on the non-existent problem of voter fraud, but they might disenfranchise thousands of young people on college campuses whose student IDs will no longer be sufficient passage to the polls.
As more and more states consider policies that restrict the availability of contraception or force invasive procedures on women seeking termination services, many students will face a future where their health and family planning choices are no longer their own. These are the issues that drag me out of the classroom and into the studio. I hope you’ll join me there this weekend.