The newly-founded Institute of Politics on campus has faced criticism for apparently benefitting a small number of students who are already highly involved in student government and elsewhere.
Most of the skepticism toward the program seems to come from the fact that five of its ten officers are either Morehead-Cain or Robertson scholars. While true, this is not at all a reason to discount the institute’s work before it starts. Students can benefit from the IOP’s existence in a number of ways, even if they’re not here on a full-ride scholarship.
The IOP’s Fellows Program will bring prominent political figures to campus for speaking engagements and office hours each semester. This fall’s fellows are Deborah Ross, the Democratic nominee for last year’s NC Senate race, and Thomas Stith, chief of staff during Pat McCrory’s tenure as governor. Rather than complain about the makeup of the program’s leadership, perhaps we should take the chance to speak one-on-one with two prominent politicians in our state, as this occurrence is a thing of rarity in the current political climate.
Another arm of the IOP, the Civics in the Triangle program, will send UNC students to two classrooms in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system to teach civics and government courses in fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms and develop their own curricula.
The institute’s Tech Team seeks to tackle digital problems in nearby communities and governmental capacities, and its Summer in Washington arrangement provides Carolina students with networking opportunities with professionals and firms in the District.