Nader urges students to ‘democratize the media’

Melissa Moller

Consumer rights advocate and 2000 Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader spoke about the state of the American political culture at the Quinnipiac Law School on Nov. 1. The speech, which was sponsored by the Law School newspaper, The Quinnipiac Legal Times, had to be moved from the Faculty Commons room to the Grand Courtroom after the turnout exceeded expectations.

“I think it was the best outcome that I’ve ever seen regarding a speaker at the law school,” said Lauren Henault, a law studentwho attended the lecture.

The lecture, titled “The End of Habeas Corpus,” was supposed to address the recent law passed by President George W. Bush that temporarily suspends the rights of arrrested foreign citizens from having the American government state the changes upon which they were arrested.

“I was upset that he did not really talk about what the program was advertiseds as-which was a discussion of habeas corpus,” said sophomore Andrew Clark. “Ralph Nader is an entertainer…That’s what I have to remind myself. He goes out there and says stuff to make people upset and angry to get attention, attention for himself and for the Green Party.”

Nader began his speech with a statement that he continuously repeated: that the American political climate has changed.

“Years ago…if anyone told us that we’d have a time where habeas corpus would be jeapordized with 5,000 [people] imprisoned, charged and without lawyers…it would’ve been inconceivable to us,” Nader said.

At least one journalism professor invited her newswriting class to the lecture.

“Although we do not discuss our personal politics in class, I was fairly certain that although all my students may or may not agree with Mr. Nader’s point of view, his words would hopefully prove to broaden their thinking as journalists,” said Jodi Amatulli, a professor of communications.

Nader’s promotion of the Green Party and omission to the subject of habeas corpus was evident to students who attended the lecture.

“I think he chose the material that he spoke about with specific intentions. We’re a week away from elections so I think it was natural for it to take the course that it did,” said law student Amy Drega.

The 72-year-old Nader used forceful words to describe what seemed to be thinly veiled criticism of the Bush administration’s foreign policy.

“We are two major terrorist strikes away from a police state. We have now told the world just how vulnerable we are, how subject to a nervous breakdown and panic we are. We have publicized in minute detail our vulnerabilities,” Nader said.

Likewise, Nader implored law students to become involved in the political system.

“I hope some of you will open up the political system that is now offering fewer choices and voices than ever. I hope you democratize the media more,” Nader said.

Nader closed the speech by promoting the Green Party.

“The Green Party, it is small. It is poorly funded. But how many people were involved in the abolition drive? Six women. How about the women’s rights drive? Six women. Big businesses start with small entrepreneurs. But in politics you crush the small guy. You bump him off the ballot,” Nader said. “You make sure the judges who are selected to decide the case have the right political background. So I hope you give a chance to the green line on the ballot in November.”

Nader’s words left the audience in a brief moment of silence. Perhaps he persuaded students to reconsider their attitudes toward the Green Party, or perhaps they were just recovering from his harsh critique of the current political system.

“He is an interesting character and a good speaker. I was surprised about the turnout,” Clark said. “I was glad and excited that a supposedly apathetic school gathered so much attention for a political figure. I don’t think we give our students enough opportunities to show their interests in politics.”