That sounds a little dramatic…”The Last Session.” Fortunately, for first-time students and non-seniors, this is an annual event.
Over the course of 3 days, students from various colleges (including Stetson, Florida Southern, and Valdosta) have come together to debate real issues in real U.S. Senate form. I was able to attend the opening session on Thursday, and I have to say, the students have really embraced the roles they’ve been assigned to play, more so than when it first started. Not only are the debates getting full attention, the students seem more familiar with the process of taking part in the Senate, in relation to bill and amendment passing. I assume this is what is supposed to happen…obviously, this event isn’t in its 42nd year solely because of Stetson’s ability to provide good refreshments (side note: they do provide good refreshments).
“First day I refused to speak,” Delaney Willis said, when asked how her comfort with the sessions has changed while playing the role of Oklahoma Senator, Tom Coburn.
“I was familiar in the way things went, but not the terminology,” she said about her previous Senate knowledge.
Since Thursday, she has gotten more comfortable with speaking to other ‘senators’ during the sessions and has been writing things down to say.
This is also the students’ last chance to impress the judges and hopefully snag one of the six best senate awards at tonight’s awards banquet. I’m unsure of the criteria for these awards, but I’m guessing it isn’t based on attire (another side note: I’ve seen a lot of spiffily-dressed ladies and gentlemen this weekend! I haven’t seen so many bow ties in one room since…ever). The competition has definitely heated up since the last time I sat in.
“By God, no!” Senator John M. Inhoffe (played by Gody Occeus) shouts as he puts in his vote; consequently, he is asked to give a simple answer of “aye” or “no,” but this is an example of how spirited students are getting today. Republicans are not hesitating to stand in opposition, name tags waving in the air, demanding for roll call on a decision…with much annoyance from majority.
“God Bless…why don’t we just vote all afternoon,” said Senate Majority Leader, Robert Jones, after Republicans demanded another roll call.
As they continue to go back and forth, an official judge sits at the front table with a dark blue Judge ribbon pinned to his suit. Other marked judges can be found walking throughout the room.
Many would like to move on from this EPA debate, but it seems as though this Model Senate is more realistic than I thought. After a second roll call within the half hour, the subject of violence against women is now being brought to the Senate by Democrats.
One of the judges, manning his post and jotting notes during the Senate Session.
Photo by: Andrea Reeves
By: Andrea Reeves