New York Times Editor Keynote Speaker at Roosevelt Conference
Richard l. Berke, assistant managing editor for news at The New York
Times, will be the keynote speaker at a conference titled “Make
Democracy Work,” on Saturday, May 3. The conference will run from 11:30 a.m.
until 4 p.m. and is being presented by the Wesleyan University Chapter of
the Roosevelt Institution.
The conference also features panel discussions and workshops designed to
highlight important components of democracy that are often overlooked or
taken for granted and give them both local and national perspectives.
“We wanted to raise awareness about what democracy means and how it
functions and fails in America,” says. Elana Baurer ’09, conference
co-chair. “We also wanted to bring the Wesleyan and greater Middletown
community together to engage in meaningful dialogue and debate."
The conference will open at 11 a.m. in PAC 001 with a faculty panel titled
“Framing a Discussion for Democracy.” Confirmed speakers include Melanye
Price, assistant professor of government, who will discuss events
surrounding Hurricane Katrina; Eyal Rabinovich, visiting assistant professor
of sociology, who will talk about the theoretical concept of democracy; and
David Stein '06, Ph.D candidate at Yale University in African American
studies and American studies, who will discuss the prison system in the
From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., the conference will move to PAC 421 and 422 to
conduct “Making Democracy Work” workshops, which according to the conference
organizers is aimed at tackling “more specific elements of our democracy and
how greater functionality might be achieved.” Members of Wesleyan Prisoner
Resource and Education Project (WESPREP) and the Traverse Square After
School Program are confirmed as participants.
The keynote presentation by Berke will run from 3 to 4 p.m. and be held in
Crowell Concert Hall. Berke served as The New York Times’ national
political correspondent and covered the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000
presidential campaigns. His past beats have included Congress, the White
House, and money and politics. In 1999 he was appointed to the Senior
Advisory Board of the Institute of Politics of the Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard University. Berke has waived his speaking fee for the
"As students, we see the intellectual world media as a major part of the
democratic process,” says Ilona Kramer ‘08, Roosevelt Institute co-chair.
“To have someone who will give us another perspective reflecting a third
dimension beyond Wesleyan and Middletown, who is a part of the production of
knowledge regarding the health of our democratic society is a great
opportunity for expanding our understanding of the connection between media
and the dissemination of information."
A reception open to all attendees and presenters will be hosted by President
Michael Roth after Berke’s keynote.
Attendance to the conference is free of charge and the event is open to the
campus and Middletown communities.
"We wanted to put this event together in recognition of the fact that there
wasn't enough dialogue on campus about the state of our democracy,” says
Lily Mandlin, ’10, one of the conference organizers. “We were working
towards solutions for the symptoms of the problems rather than focusing on
the root causes."
Campus Progress and The New York Times Readership Program are
co-sponsors of the event.
By David Pesci, director of media relations