Beaconsfield High School

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Students take part in Congress to Campus event at Oxford University

By Mrs Victoria Williams, Government & Politics teacher

Twelve of our Year 13 Government and Politics students were recently invited to Oxford University to participate in their annual Congress to Campus event.  

Held at the Rothermere American Institute, this event allowed the students to meet and question two former members of the US House of Representatives and Professor Philip Davies.  The visiting speakers – former Congressmen Vic Fazio (Democrat for California) and Randy Neugebauer (Republican for Texas) – provided views from both ends of the US political spectrum.  

Whilst Randy Neugebauer has been described as the "most conservative" member of the House (of which he was most proud); Vic Fazio described himself as a "bleeding heart liberal". They also demonstrated the diversity of the people represented by Congress. Whereas Randy Neugebauer describes his constituents as small town Texans, who "love their bible, their gun and hate government intrusion in their lives", Vic Razio explained how his constituency, which included some 700,000 people, incorporated small towns and both metropolitan and suburban areas.  

They both talked of the challenges facing candidates in elections, with the need to connect with the people, achieve name recognition and secure several million dollars of funding.  They also reflected on the challenges of partisan politics.  Beaconsfield High School student Amelia Sabeti asked the panel a most insightful question on the impact of gridlock on modern American politics. There was also a discussion on the presidency of Donald Trump, with the guest speakers providing contrasting views.  

I was also delighted to see our students engaging in thoughtful debates with both the former Representatives on issues such as the constitutional legitimacy of the Republican decision to refuse to hold Senate judicial hearings into President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and the influences that effect the decision making of Congressional members.  

The students were excellent ambassadors for the school throughout the day. They made the most of this opportunity to really gain a deeper understanding of the American political system from those who had served within it for so long.  They relished the contrast in the two views expressed by the former Representatives.  I was most proud of them all.