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JANUS forum to debate proper role of government

By Lauren Oliver
On March 14, 2014

The JANUS forum is returning for the third time to Miami University. The debate, which allows students from all over the political spectrum to engage in a constructive discussion, will be held in the Armstrong Student Center's Wilks Theater at 6 p.m. Wednesday., March 19.

The two speakers at the event, who were chosen by Miami students, will be bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Eugene Robinson. Each speaker will debate his view on the proper role of the government in a free society.

According to the American Enterprise Institute, Goldberg is the founding editor of the National Review Online, and was named one of the top 50 political commentators by the Atlantic magazine. He has also written for the Los Angeles Times and contributed to Fox News, as well as USA Today.

Robinson has had a three-decade career at the Washington Post, with jobs such as city hall reporter, city editor and foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, according to the Post. He has also provided political commentary on MSNBC shows such as "Hardball," "The Rachel Maddow Show" and NBC's "Meet the Press."

In the past, the JANUS forum has been a successful event on Miami's campus. Patrick Haney, interim chair of the Political Science department, said he believes it is a great opportunity for students.

"Not only will there be one great high-profile speaker, but there will be two, and these issues are the lifeblood of our democracy," he said.

Haney said political debates are key factors in charting the future and that it is important for students to not just stand on the sidelines.

Courtney Bernard, vice president of the student body, will moderate the forum and is looking forward to hearing the two experts reflect on such an impactful issue.

"We hope to challenge and possibly alter how students think about government, democracy, and the American way of life," she said.

Bernard said she believes the topic should interest students, as it is "extremely relevant" and has been widely discussed throughout the media within the past year. 

Sophomore Taylor Avery, a Psychology major and Spanish minor, said she is looking forward to educating herself on the topic at hand.

"Personally, I know myself and I know that I am not into politics, so it'll be a good eye-opening experience to hear the opposing views of the topic that is presented," she said. "I think this is a great opportunity for me to formulate my own opinion."

When the forum concludes, the two speakers will break out into small groups so that students will have the opportunity to engage in discussion. Following, there will be a big reception with a variety of food.

"I'm hoping the students who come will stick around," Haney said.

The JANUS forum developed from the sponsorship of alum,nus Thomas W. Smith, and is organized by Miami students. Last year's JANUS forum featured former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, and former U.N. ambassador, William Kristol. The two shared their views on the United States' role in the world for the future.

Required tickets for the upcoming JANUS forum are available at the Miami Box Office in Shriver. However, tickets will still be available at the Wilks Theater the night of the event.

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