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MockDawgs

Writer: Ryan Bolt

As spring semester approaches here at the University of Georgia it marks the end of another great season competing with the undergraduate mock trial team. For those unfamiliar, mock trial is an activity in which teams from all around the country simulate a criminal trial. Every year a new case is released complete with witness affidavits, relevant case law, and available evidence to be used during the simulation. Students compete as witnesses as well as lawyers and are scored based on their performance during the simulation. At every tournament, teams from different universities battle it out representing either the prosecution or defense to present their case. Mock trial provides a platform for students to improve their public speaking skills, engage in competitive acting as witnesses, or just learn a little more about our legal system in preparation for law school. And while other schools have coaches the University of Georgia mock trial team is completely student run. Everything between hosting our own tournament in Atlanta to learning the various applications of the law is student led and operated.

This fall season the ‘mockdawgs’ had the most competitive semester yet, bringing in a record number of trophies from over six tournaments. In Ohio, UGA swept the competition winning both first and second place against teams like Michigan, Ohio state, and Miami of Ohio. In Washington D.C., the mockdawgs pulled third place at the most competitive competition of the semester beating teams like Harvard, Vanderbilt, and Princeton. But for all of the competitive success we’ve had this semester nothing can replace the lifelong friendships we’ve made in this program. I was fortunate enough to captain a team this semester and helped welcome new members to the program. The fall semester is dedicated to teaching new members ‘how to mock’ and welcoming them to the mock family. While some enter the program having had many years of experience in high school others hear about mock trial through a friend and have never competed with a group before.

Out of all the organizations on campus it would be of no surprise to hear that the UGA mock trial program logs the most hours in total. Each of the teams in our program spend upwards of eighteen hours a week together perfecting case theory, practicing witness directs and crosses, and improving upon opening and closing statements.

Although mock trial is a huge time commitment, we wouldn’t do it if we weren’t all great friends as well. In fact, it would be pretty hard to spend that much time with a group of people without fostering lifelong friendships somewhere along the way. For many, including me, mock trial is our on-campus family that has shaped our experience here at the University of Georgia. Heading into the spring season we look forward to representing the University of Georgia at regionals, open round championships, and with any luck nationals as well!

A Chance to Learn in Our Own Backyard

Writer: Sara Beth Marchert

The School of Public and International Affairs & the University of Georgia offer students an incredible opportunity to have a semester in Washington DC, interning in offices that appeal to our interests. Every student I’ve spoken to who has experienced the DC Semester program and stayed in the beautiful Delta Hall has loved it and walked away with lessons that were valuable for their future careers.

However, for many students, a semester away from our Athens campus is not in the cards, whether it is because of the hours we need for graduation or because of finances. Thankfully, this semester SPIA has offered us a way to get similar advice from someone with years of experience without leaving the Miller Learning Center.  This year, students were given the opportunity to take a political science course taught by Congressman John Barrow, the former U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 12th District.

I was one of the lucky students given said opportunity to take POLS 4615 this semester, Polarization of American Politics with Congressman Barrow. This semester has been incredibly enlightening, as I’ve been taught by someone who has firsthand faced the polarization in the House of Representatives. Thanks to Rep. Barrow’s teaching and the readings he has assigned, I’ve learned more about the history and inner-workings of Congress this semester than I ever thought I could by staying in Athens.

Having a former US Congressman as an instructor for a political science course is an opportunity that I never thought I would have. The University of Georgia and the School of Public and International Affairs has once again proved to me, and all of our students, that we are an institution with power and prowess, and our alumni have such loyalty to our school that they will continue to give back far past graduation. I have no doubt that one of my peers will be a member of Congress in the upcoming years and will give the next class of Bulldawgs a chance to learn from hands on experience like I have this year.