Presidential Visit Sparks UM-Flint Conversations

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UM-Flint campus in the fall and the Northbank Center
UM-Flint campus in the fall and the Northbank Center

Former President Bill Clinton will visit the University of Michigan-Flint campus today, bringing another opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to witness this year's presidential election up close.

Clinton's visit comes one week before Michigan's Oct. 11 deadline to register to vote. Clinton is speaking on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, and her presidential campaign. Campus also hosted a Democratic presidential debate earlier this year and Republican nominee Donald Trump visited Flint last month.

UM-Flint has also created its own events to engage participants in election conversation–hosting presidential and vice-presidential debate watch parties and an event to recognize Constitution Day. As an institution of higher learning, the University of Michigan-Flint supports the free exchange of ideas and welcomes opportunities to provide a forum for speakers with a variety of political, social, and religious views. The University does not engage in any political campaign activity, including endorsing or opposing any candidate for political office.

"By exposing our students to a wide variety of opportunities to be engaged, listen, and share their own voices, we are helping to create the informed citizens that make communities and countries strong. It is my hope that they are facing this election season, and all facets of life, with the multidisciplinary perspective we so value in the College of Arts & Sciences. We encourage them to think broadly and deeply in class, and that's a lesson that will serve them well when considering the future of our nation," said Susan Gano-Phillips, dean of UM-Flint's College of Arts & Sciences.

Traci Currie, Ph.D., collegiate lecturer of communication in the College of Arts & Sciences, noted, "I would say that the presence of Clinton or anyone running for this office allows us as students, faculty, and staff to talk. We cannot be afraid to talk about the issues that are glaring us in the face. Our students must learn to voice their thoughts, deconstruct the language that is used to describe their environment, and share their stories. This is engagement."

Currie's public speaking courses include high schoolers, first year freshmen, older, and non-traditional students; all from a wide variety of backgrounds. She finds many communication lessons within the political processes of the election: "It is important that my students engage in this process whether they can vote or not, because they shape the dialogue and help society, as a whole, think about the communication process. This election moves beyond voting. It is about awareness."

"Being aware of Clinton's presence in Flint is linked to being aware of how people strategically and structurally think about Flint's placement in the fabric of this U.S. quilt," continued Currie. "Flint is like many U.S. cities working through its issues. So it is important to be a part of that presidential discussion. I tell students, 'Your job is to actively listen and think about what's being said about the city you are in.'"

President Clinton will speak at 3:15 p.m. on Monday, October 3, 2016. UM-Flint's Northbank Center is located at 432 S. Saginaw Street, Flint, MI. The university is not involved with the distribution of tickets for the event. The Northbank Center will remain open for regular business throughout the day. No parking will be available on the street in front of Northbank or in the lot behind the building.

For more information on the University of Michigan-Flint, and the ways in which our students engage on campus and beyond, visit

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