Students Get Look Inside 2016 Elections

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Students and faculty outside the Dole Insistute

Exactly one month after the 2016 elections, six students from Rockhurst University joined hundreds of political junkies, policy wonks and observers to try to find out, firsthand, just what happened.

Led by Charles Moran, Ph.D., professor of political science, and Thomas Ringenberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, the students traveled to Lawrence, Kansas, where the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas hosted a post-election conference, featuring campaign insiders representing each major candidate along with analysts and journalists from publications like the New York Times who covered the election.

On Thursday, students sat in on separate sessions for representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties, while on Friday were general sessions including the whole group of presenters. Moran said he hoped that the students would be able to take away a rare “peek behind the curtain” of how each campaign operated — what they did well, where they might have stumbled.

“I think it’s important for students to have this opportunity, where people can get in a room together and have a discussion that is for the most part respectful,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing for students to see.”

Freshman Kylie Fenger, part of the Rockhurst University College Democrats, and Sara Gregg, a sophomore who also serves as part Student Senate and the College Republicans group on campus, were both there to listen to the postmortem of an election outcome that surprised pundits on both sides of the aisle.

“I’m listening for some perspective on how we got the result we got, and maybe an idea of where we go from here and how the country heals,” Fenger said.

Gregg said she was hoping for a message that might help bridge divides she sees among her fellow student senators.

“We have two really different opinions,” she said. “So I hope something like this conference can bring us together, so that instead of dwelling on the election, we can use it to move forward.”