Bus brings Congress to campus
Washington came to UH on Thursday as the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network bus, a 45-foot custom-built bus stuffed with the latest technology, rolled up to campus to show students the best that C-SPAN has to offer.
C-SPAN is a nonpartisan, nonprofit cable network that provides raw, unedited streams of federal government affairs, as well as other political and public affairs programming. The bus, which has been visiting schools and events nationwide since 1993, parked near Entrance 14 on Thursday afternoon by request from the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication and assistant professor Arthur Santana.
The bus was packed with MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, TVs, touchscreen computers, and a smartboard to show the variety of programming, both online and on television, that C-SPAN provides.
“(The computers) allow visitors to take trivia quizzes. They can also browse through our website, video library, and access how to follow Washington their way,” said C-SPAN marketing representative Jennifer Curran.
“Primarily, when it was first created, it was a production vehicle. Now, in its current incarnation, it is an interactive demonstration studio. It allows us to travel across the country in a timely manner to visit middle schools, high schools, state capitals … I personally can’t think of any way for us to reach the entire country other than on a bus.”
Curran emphasized the functionality and uses of the video library, a collection of over 170,000 recordings of speeches, hearings, sessions and other federal videos dating back to the 1970s. None of the videos are copyrighted, letting anyone from students to national media organizations splice together video to create their own clips.
“We welcome all students to come on board. There’s so much archived on our video library — over 200,000 hours. If you’re a nursing, economics or education student, you’re going to find out more information by coming aboard the bus and taking a tour,” Curran said.
The majority of the students who showed up were communications majors who came for class credit.
“Several professors gave incentives to their students, so if they were here, they would get extra credit,” said interpersonal communication senior Carol Greenslate, a volunteer with the School of Communication.
“I would have expected more political science students; I haven’t seen any. Everybody is from the School of Communication.”
Many did not understand C-SPAN well or know what the bus would be.
“I wasn’t expecting this … I kind of knew what it was because I read it online before I came in, but I didn’t expect (what the bus turned out to be),” said finance junior Anisa Bejko.
Several said that they came out of the bus more educated on C-SPAN and the resources it provides.
The bus went on to visit other locations around Houston, the latest city in a week-long tour across Texas from Laredo to Houston.