ADA – As the impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald J. Trump unfolds, an East Central University contingent had the chance to experience part of the historic event firsthand.
Thanks to private donations provided through the President’s Circle at ECU and an admission ticket provided by U.S. Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, a professor and two students flew to Washington, D.C. this week to witness part of the trial on Capitol Hill.
Dr. Christine Pappas, who teaches Political Science and Legal Studies at ECU, accompanied students MiKayla Lott and Rain Rehbein to the extremely rare political proceeding. President Trump’s impeachment trial marks only the third such event in U.S. history.
“It’s been really exciting,” said Lott, a Legal Studies major from Broken Bow. “This is so historical. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Pappas and her students shared the event ticket, dividing observation time in the U.S. Senate chamber gallery.
“That was probably the tightest security I’ve ever seen,” Pappas said. “They took everything you had on you before you entered the chamber. You couldn’t even write anything down.”
All three agreed the gravity of the rare event really hit home when viewed in person.
“It was kind of shocking to see all this happening,” said Rehbein, a Legal Studies major from Lambert, Montana, who along with Lott made her first-ever trip to the nation’s capital.
Pappas also took the students to the National Archives to view the original U.S. Constitution, paying particular attention to Article Two that outlines executive branch power – which is at the heart of Trump’s impeachment trial.
“To actually see the words written by the framers (of the Constitution) is so powerful and those words were written for a day like today,” Pappas said. “Our government is so characterized by the separation of powers. To see House (of Representatives) members and a Supreme Court justice together in the Senate is so consequential.”
ECU student Alex Benitez of Healdton is currently interning in Lankford’s office as well, adding to ECU’s presence this historic week in Washington.
“This trip wouldn’t have been possible without (ECU) President Katricia Pierson’s assistance obtaining private funding for us,” Pappas said. “That and Senator Lankford’s recognition of the educational importance of these proceedings and his desire to bring students in to participate. I appreciate them both so much.”
Both students said they enjoyed the opportunity to watch part of the impeachment trial where it is actually taking place.
“ECU gives its students such amazing opportunities,” Lott said. “These are experiences you can’t get anywhere else.”