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Baptist university finds itself center stage of election coverage

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP)–Palm Beach Atlantic College found itself in the national spotlight over the weekend when CNN broadcast three shows from the Baptist college’s downtown West Palm Beach campus on the vote-counting controversy from the Nov. 7 election between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George Bush.

Two special editions of “Talk Back Live” and a show hosted by Jeff Greenfeld were aired live from the school’s campus and featured students, faculty and staff in the audience, Palm Beach Atlantic public relations director Rebecca Peeling reported.

“It was really exciting for our students and for the entire college,” Peeling told Baptist Press. “A lot of our students were involved in the program and we had 40 guests from the school that were invited to actually appear on the show.”

All three programs were part of CNN’s 24-hour coverage of the escalating voting conflict.

“CNN officials called us Thursday and said they were looking for a venue to broadcast,” Peeling said. “A lot of conventions look at our campus and facilities because we are right downtown. We told them we would be more than happy to host them.”

And if the campus wasn’t busy enough with the election coverage, Peeling said the campus also was in the midst of homecoming festivities. “Needless to say it was really busy around here,” she said. “Busy, but exciting.”

Students at the college have taken a strong interest in what commentators and scholars have called a crucial time in the nation’s history, said Randy Hollingsworth, assistant professor of communication at Palm Beach Atlantic.

“It’s been chaos with all the protests around town,” Hollingsworth said. “But it’s been a great learning experience for our students, especially with the eye of the whole country looking at us.

“We’ve been having a blast with it,” he added. “We try not to let it dominate our classes, but we provide the students with daily updates and we pull up various websites and check out the national coverage.”

Even though Hollingsworth said the college is mostly conservative, he noted that there are students who fall on either side of the Bush-Gore controversy.

“That’s why it’s important to maintain a Christian perspective on the issues,” Hollingsworth said.

“From a Christian perspective I think we should all be cautious in assuming the other side is the enemy,” he said. “We have to realize that there are Christians on both sides and non-Christians on both sides. Let’s not be too hasty in calling names. We tell our students that you can stand up for your opinion without casting judgment on others.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: CHRIS ASKEW, CNN SET and BOBBIE BATTISTA.

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