Former Presidential election candidate Julián Castro visits U.S. Elections class

Castro joins the ranks of notable guest speakers to have visited the largest class in Vanderbilt history.


Avery Muir

Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development made a Zoom appearance in U.S. Elections class on Oct. 20. (Hustler Staff/Screenshot by Avery Muir)

Immanual John Milton, Editor in Chief

Julián Castro (D), a former 2020 presidential election candidate, visited the U.S. Elections class today at approximately 1 p.m. CDT. 

Castro spoke with Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Chair in American Presidency Jon Meacham for approximately 20 minutes; Castro then also addressed questions from teaching assistant Mary Catherine Sullivan, Dean of the College of Arts and Science John Geer and political science professors Eunji Kim and Josh Clinton.

Raised in San Antonio, Texas, Castro served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama from 2014-2017. Castro ran for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president and dropped out of the race Jan. 2, 2020.

The U.S. Elections class has had several notable political figures from the Democratic party speak to the class over the semester, as well as a number of journalists and Republican political consultants. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was a visitor on Sept. 22; approximately three weeks prior to Pelosi’s visit, another former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg spoke during their Sept. 3 class.

The class is looking to have about ten total guest speakers over this fall semester, per Geer.

First-year Grace Philips said that students were unaware of the visit until it happened. Philips said that she did not know much about Castro until the visit was announced at the beginning of class.

“I knew he was in the race running for president, but I didn’t know much about him at all,” Philips said. “That led me to actually look up his policy platform.” 

Senior Eden Singh said she enjoyed hearing his “insider” perspective. 

“It was really interesting to hear his perspective on so many things that are happening right now,” Singh said.

In regards to student concerns about partisanship in the class, Philips said that the professors have been making an effort to include both sides of the aisle.

“I think the professors have addressed it and have done a good job about trying to be balanced,” Philips said.

Singh also said that professors have been working to make the class non-partisan.

“I know they don’t want the class to become partisan, so they’re making a pretty big effort to have both Democrat and Republican speakers,” Singh said.