Students Propose Ways to Reform Congress

College of Charleston political science students are competing with Republican Presidential candidates Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. Like these presidential contenders, they’re presenting plans for reforming the U.S. Congress. While those two candidates have already presented their proposals, now students in first-year professor Jordan Ragusa’s Congress class will present theirs.

“We began the semester discussing why Congressional disapproval is at an all-time low. We then talked about the ways in which Congress has transformed itself throughout history and what the consequences of those reforms have been. Some of those reforms, it turns out, are directly related to Congress’s modern dysfunction. Now my students are applying that knowledge to present options for reforming the modern Congress for the better,” explains Ragusa.

Thus far, students have presented a broad range of reforms; no two proposals have been alike. Proposals include electoral changes—from mandatory voting to campaign finance reform—as well as changes to Congress’s internal rules and procedures—from changing the composition of the Rules Committee to lowering the signature requirement of the “discharge petition.”

The students have strict instructions to make the reforms realistic and novel. They will identify a problem confronting the contemporary Congress and, second, make a proposal for alleviating or minimizing that problem. They are expected to draw on all readings and discussions covered during the semester while citing published research and established theoretical arguments about Congress.

For more information, contact Jordan Ragusa at ragusajm@cofc.edu.