By Jessica Boggs, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – The 2008 presidential election, one of the most intense in history, will conclude on Jan. 20, 2009, with the inauguration of either the first African-American or oldest president ever elected. A group of 40 students and faculty from Campbellsville University will be there to watch it happen.
Dr. Wendy Benningfield, associate professor of history, and Max Wise, assistant professor of political science, had been discussing the upcoming election when the subject of the inauguration came into the conversation.
Benningfield, who is also the faculty advisor for the university’s history club, the Collegiate Historians, mentioned that the club was thinking about visiting Washington, D.C. The idea suddenly occurred to them that if a trip was going to be taken to Washington, it should be during the inauguration. Benningfield passed the suggestion on to the club’s officers, and the idea quickly became reality.
“This is a time they can look back on and say I was there for a major political event,” said Wise. “While in Washington, the students will also get to experience first-hand the things we discuss in the classroom.”
Benningfield believes that this trip will help raise awareness in young people about the importance of politics and why they should become involved in the voting process. “It will embed in them a sense of patriotism and citizenship,” she said.
The Collegiate Historians, which is in only its second year of existence, already has a full schedule of activities planned both on campus and in the community to help promote voting awareness, the election and the club.
On Sept. 16 at 6 p.m., they will host an event titled “Get Out and Vote!” in which representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties of Kentucky will be on campus to hand out buttons, flyers and information about their respective parties. Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney will also be on hand to answer any questions students have about voting or registering to vote. The event will be in The Gheens Recital Hall.
Benningfield and Wise will also participate in “Presidential Politics 2008,” a forum held by Campbellsville University’s Kentucky Heartland Institute on Public Policy on Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. in the Little Auditorium of the Student Union Building.
In addition to events promoting the election, members of the club will assist local historian Betty Jane Gorin-Smith with her various projects involving Taylor County’s historic homes. Upcoming projects include helping out at the Tebbs Bend Flea Market and working at the Hiestand House and Atkinson-Griffith House. As well, teams of students are researching historic buildings in Taylor and Green counties and assisting with several individual family history research projects.
In addition to their ongoing activities, the Collegiate Historians are also conducting fundraising events in order to pay for the cost of the trip to Washington, D.C. After receiving a donation from the university, students were left to raise $8,000.
Fundraising has already begun and will continue throughout the fall semester. The students held a bake sale at the first Campbellsville University football game Aug. 30 and at Wal-Mart Aug. 30 and 31.
Starting in a few weeks, the club will be taking orders for T-shirts featuring a message encouraging students to vote. Later in the semester, a Krispy Kreme donut fundraiser will take place. The club is also accepting donations from local residents or businesses.
Wise thinks that this trip will be the event that motivates the campus to focus on the election. “We need the campus to be politically active,” he said. “It’s a great educational experience.”
Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,405 students who represent 98 Kentucky counties, 25 states and 36 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his tenth year as president.