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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Ex-Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg makes guest appearance in U.S. Elections class

Students react to the former mayor of South Bend and 2020 presidential candidate’s visit.
Students tuning into U.S. Elections via Zoom on Sept. 3 were surprised by a surprise guest: Pete Buttigieig. (Hustler Multimedia / Avery Muir)

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made a surprise Zoom appearance during the introductory political science class, U.S. Elections, on Sept. 3.

The U.S. Elections class, co-taught by Dean of the College of Arts and Science John Geer and political science professors Josh Clinton, Eunji Kim and Jon Meacham, is the largest class in Vanderbilt history, with a current enrollment of 827 students, according to YES. 

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was the first guest speaker to visit the class to discuss his experiences running for office and answer students’ questions. 

“I think regardless of your political beliefs we can all agree that he had an answer to every question. He came up with it super quickly and was able to speak on it at length, and these were questions that we the students had submitted minutes before,” first-year Bea Grant said.  “That ability to be able to think so quickly—I guess I hadn’t really realized how truly intense that was.”

Geer said that all of the professors are collectively working to secure speakers with various ideological perspectives and areas of expertise. The professors are hoping to have about ten guest speakers visit over the course of the semester. Meacham had talked to Buttigieg in the past and was able to reach out and schedule a time with him, Geer said. 

The professors decided to announce Buttigieg’s lecture during class due to Zoom’s 1,000-person maximum capacity, Geer said. If too many students who were not enrolled in the class were able to get the Zoom link and log in, it could have prevented enrolled students from watching the lecture live. 

Both Geer and a few students in the class noted Buttigieg’s honesty and insightfulness during the conversation. 

“He’s exceptionally thoughtful,” Geer said. “You know, his description of elections as an exchange of trust is really interesting, and it just shows that he thought about it. I also thought his comment about the need to think carefully about why you’re running before you run, because you’re not going to have any free time to think about these things—I thought that was really insightful.”

Sophomore Michael Gallego said he appreciated the candid nature of the conversation. 

“Buttigieg was insightful and undeniably authentic. It was a true privilege to have him speak to us,” Gallego said. “If we are to restore trust in our institutions and our government, citizens like Pete are our best bet to achieve that.”

Geer said that some of the upcoming speakers for the class include Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and Republican ad consultant Fred Davis, among others.

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About the Contributors
Avery Muir
Avery Muir, Former Managing Editor
Avery Muir ('21) is from Bethesda, MD. She studied political science and economics in the College of Arts and Science. Avery has been on staff since her first year at Vanderbilt, previously serving as a staff writer, Life Editor and then Copy Editor. In her free time, Avery likes drinking way too much coffee and exploring the Nashville food scene. You can reach her at [email protected].    
Logan Cromeens
Logan Cromeens, Former Deputy News Editor
Logan Cromeens (‘23) is from Tempe, Arizona. He is double majoring in political science and sociology with a minor in communication studies. He can be reached at [email protected].    
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Norma Biggs
3 years ago

Mayor Pete is an amazingly well qualified candidate for virtually any elected or appointed office. His work ethic and dedication to public service are exceeded only by his exceptional education, brilliance and accomplishments in his relatively young life. Many of his dedicated followers are anxiously awaiting for the time he can be elected president.

As Chris Wallace of Fox News once said, “Whenever I ask him a question, it’s like he has had two weeks to prepare the answer.”