Saturday, March 17, 2012

Once in a Decade...


One of my favorite parts of Macalester is the Twin Cities location. There are so many cool experiences just a bus ride away, ranging from places to go with your friends to internship sites to give you practical experience in your major! As part of the Political Science class "Legislative Politics", students also complete an internship at the State Capitol in downtown St. Paul. I'm in that class right now, and intern for Senator Richard Cohen, who represents the Macalester neighborhood.

My internship has given me the opportunity to really go behind the scenes in the state legislature in a way that my inner nerd could only have dreamed of! I get to go to committee hearings, track legislation, and get to know not only the local politics of Minnesota better, but also the politicians! I feel so much more connected to Minnesota than I did before taking this class, and love getting to be on the front lines of the legislative process.

Every ten years, the legislative districts are redrawn to reflect changes in the US Census, and I just happened to be working at the State Capitol that day! Redistricting has the potential to remove legislators from their districts, give them new constituents, and completely shake up things for everyone involved... so it's a pretty big deal. I was excited to get the chance to see how that would affect things at the legislature, as well as see the reactions of people as they anxiously awaited the news.

The maps were due to come out at 1pm, so after lunch my supervisor told me and two other Mac students (Matt Butler '12 and Brian Hurlow '12) who are also in the class that we could try to get the maps on our computer. The intern station, however, happened to be where members of the press were gathering to wait for the maps. When 1:00 rolled around, the computer we were sitting at was one of the first ones that actually let us onto the page. We started poring over the maps trying to figure out what would happen to the senators we knew, and later that day...




Why yes, that is the three of us, showing the press the first reaction from the Senate DFL Caucus of the redistricting maps. No, that was not staged. That's just how intrigued we were.

-- Natalie Pavlatos '12