Starr to host former Supreme Court Justice

By Trevor Allison

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will visit campus April 30 as part of Baylor President Ken Starr’s “On Topic” series. The event will be at 1 p.m. in Waco Hall.

O’Connor, who was the first woman on the Supreme Court, will also take part in other activities while in Waco.

The visit and On Topic event provide a unique opportunity for Baylor students, Dr. David Bridge, Baylor assistant professor of political science, said.

“It’s really rare that Supreme Court justices give public talks,” he said. “It will probably be a long time before Baylor sees another Supreme Court justice come visit.”

Bridge said O’Connor’s contribution to the court and American constitutional development goes beyond being the first woman on the court.

“She was the swing vote,” Bridge said. “Decisions on many cases would have been different if someone else had been chosen in her place.”

Bridge said he is also anticipating the visit for one more reason.

“Ken Starr is a great legal mind and I’m looking forward to the interaction between the two,” Bridge said of the On Topic event.

O’Connor will be speaking with Judge Starr about her time on the Supreme Court, important issues facing America today and her involvement with iCivics, according to a flier released by the university.

According to its website, iCivics is a non-profit organization O’Connor founded in 2009 to help prepare young Americans to become knowledgeable, engaged citizens by providing free and innovative educational materials, such as video games that can be played in class.

Dallas senior Amy Stone is an intern for The Baylor Model with iCivics and the Baylor Law School, a program in which law students visit local classrooms to supplement what the students are learning with iCivics materials. The Baylor School of Education is doing research on the effectiveness of the iCivics materials.

“Last April, Justice O’Connor charged Judge Starr with creating an iCivics model at Baylor Law to see what can make it [iCivics] better through trials and research,” Stone said.

Stone said she and law student Alaina Smith worked on curriculum to be taught in Waco I.S.D. classrooms, and that the students who learned with iCivics materials scored higher on evaluation tests than they had in the past.

“It’s been really cool to watch the program from the beginning to where it is now and to see the way the Waco I.S.D. kids love playing iCivics,” Stone said.

O’Connor will attend a symposium during her time in Waco to hear the results of the trials and research, Stone said.

In addition, three students from each Waco I.S.D. class that uses iCivics materials have been invited to participate in discussions with O’Connor, Starr and Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court, Stone said.

Stone said the experience will be a significant one for her personally, and also for the university as a whole.

“I’m so thrilled that I get to spend time with [O’Connor],” Stone said. “It’s huge for the school that she charged Baylor with this and she is coming to see the results.”

Tickets to On Topic are free but required and are available until April 27 on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Bill Daniel Student Ticket Office. The office is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.