Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Congress to Campus demonstrates bipartisanship

Michael J. Clarke/Suffolk University
Former Reps. James Coyne and Peter Kostmayer pose with Prof. Christina Kulich and political science students.

Former members of Congress, Pennsylvania Reps. James Coyne and Peter Kostmayer, visited Suffolk University as part of Former Members of Congress’ flagship program, Congress to Campus, last week.

Every year, a Democrat and a Republican former member of Congress visit the university for four days and attend classes and events.

“It’s a very interesting and exciting time for students who are interested in serving in public office, law or just Congress in general to get an idea what the people are actually like there,” said Julia Lewis, program administrator for the political science and legal studies department.

The department gathered information from students and professors on the kind of events and themes they wanted to discuss, much of which focused on current social issues.

“You hear ChatGPT, you hear abortion. You hear a lot of things that are in Congress right now and that are being discussed on the public scale,” Lewis said.

This year’s events included a panel discussion on threats to representative democracy with Professor Kenneth Cosgrove, Professor Christina Kulich and Professor Bill Schmidt, a talk on New Energy and EVs with Professor Jonathan Haughton and Professor Carlos Rufin, as well as a discussion on Rights, Responsibilities and the Supreme Court led by Professor Elizabeth Stillman and Professor Rachel McKinney.

Coyne said that what made this year remarkable was that the two representatives had previously run against one another and knew each other very well.

“It’s the first time in the history of the program that they had two people on the program who both beat each other, it’s unprecedented,” said Coyne, who served as a Republican member in the House of Representatives from 1981 to 1983. 

Lewis said the event was a great opportunity for students to see two former congressmen from opposing parties cooperate and enjoy each other’s company.

“It’s great to have that representation. We’re very grateful for them as an example of bipartisanship and compromise,” said Lewis.

  Although the former congressmen have not seen each other in 40 years, Coyne said the pair enjoyed working with each other again. 

“It’s a great honor. I’ve done this for 35 years at different universities and colleges and this is the best I’ve been to, honest to god, and the reason it’s the best that I’ve ever done is because Peter is here,” said Coyne. 

This event was also significant for Kostmayer, a Democratic politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1981 and 1983 to 1993.

“Suffolk University is a very important institution because 41% of the students here are the first generation to go to college. What’s happening here is making a contribution to the greatness of the country,” Kostmayer said.

The former congressmen pointed out the event was successful thanks to Lewis and McKinney, as well as the students who had been very engaged and eager to learn from the two politicians.  

“It went better than expected and we have the two congressmen to thank for that,  they were such troopers. At the end of the four days, they even know the students’ names and faces,” said Lewis.

Follow Lina on Twitter @linaleonax

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About the Contributor
Lina Gildenstern, Graduate Staff Writer | she/her
Lina is an applied politics graduate student from Duesseldorf, Germany. Next to international politics and writing, her passion is dancing, where she frequently competes in battles and performs in shows. In her spare time, she enjoys doing yoga, running, and listening to Beyonce. She hopes to work as a political journalist or for an NGO after graduation.

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Congress to Campus demonstrates bipartisanship