Forums precede president debate

In preparation for UM’s hosting of the first Presidential Debate on Sep. 30, UM has brought the “University of Miami Community Forum Series” to campus.

“The fact that the Presidential Debate is happening here will bring politics home; students will finally realize that UM is as much a part of the political field as anywhere in America,” Ryan Fell, freshman, said. “If the President and his rival were visiting my home to discuss politics, I would surely attempt to be more interested in their political issues.”

Sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, the Institute for Public History, the League of Women Voters and the Urban Environment League, the forums are intended to bring students, local celebrities, officials and panelists together to discuss topics of local concern that may be otherwise overlooked by students.

Professor Gregory Bush, Director of UM’s Institute for Public History, will be moderating the series.

“Our forums are trying to introduce local concerns to students who seldom see them in the media and show them how a selected range of community leaders and experts respond,” Bush said.

The first series will be composed of four forums, and there are plans to continue them during late summer and fall.

Last Monday, the first of the panels, “Dumb and Dumber? The Challenge of Local News and Public Education,” discussed how local media covers community, economic and political issues.

As an education researcher, Walter Secada, panelist of the first forum, feels strongly about educating students about information that is learned through the news and how it is presented to them.

“It is not enough to say that the various local and national media are owned, and hence controlled, by very powerful conglomerates,” Secada said. “Students need to realize how that control translates into the turning of news into a product that is packed and sold.”

All forums will be held at the Wesley Center, 1210 Stanford Dr., from 7-9 p.m. For more information about the UM Community Forum Series, visit

Vanessa Krause can be contacted at


Mar. 29: 7 – 9 p.m.

Up From Cynicism: Politics, Campaign Finance and Civic Activism in Miami-Dade County

Panelists: Carrie Meek (Former Congresswoman), Katy Sorenson (County Commissioner), Robert Sechen (General Counsel, Republican Party of Florida), Thomasina Williams, Esq., Ric Katz (political consultant, Communikatz)

Apr. 12: 7 – 9 p.m.

Getting Beyond Getting Along:Facing the Diversity of Miami-Dade’s Ethical Traditions

Joe Garcia (Exec. Dir., Cuban American National Foundation), Leonie Hermantin (Strategic Planning Director, Santla Haitian Neighborhood Center, resident of South Miami), Ken Goodman, (UM, ethicist), Cheryl Little (Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center)