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Thursday, June 01, 2023

Bill Nelson skips legal panel at UF thanks to government shutdown, but 500 still attend

The third annual Allen L. Poucher lecture series Friday did not include Sen. Bill Nelson as planned due to the government shutdown.

But American University law professor Kenneth Anderson, Sen. Bob Graham, retired General James T. Hill and Texas A&M University government and public service lecturer James Olson did attend.

They spoke to about 500 people at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The discussion, hosted by the Florida Law Review, included topics such as the United States’ involvement in Syria and Afghanistan, efforts to thwart modern terrorism, the inevitability of a terrorist attack on the U.S. and the dangers of biological and chemical weapons.

Mike Polatsek, a 27-year-old third-year law student and co-executive symposium editor for the Florida Law Review, said each speaker brought a unique viewpoint.

“When you have an event that goes over an hour and a half, you start losing people’s attention,” Polatsek said. “They held people’s attention really well.”

He said the Poucher lectures were created in honor of Allen L. Poucher Sr., so prominent legal, political and business leaders can come to UF and speak to students about current events.

He said the speakers weren’t paid an honorarium outside of covered travel expenses and meals.

“We just called them and asked them if they were interested in coming, and they all said yes,” he said. “It was pretty amazing.”

He said all the speakers felt very strongly about bringing national security to the forefront of peoples’ minds, which is part of the reason they agreed to come to the campus with no payment.

Anderson and Hill closed with cautions against a state of permanent war and the creation of an exclusively military class in the United States, while Olson warned that U.S. citizens cannot forget their country is at war.

Graham said Jewish and Muslim populations will significantly shape the world in the future.

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Marissa Koolik, a 20-year-old international studies junior, said she found the discussion on drones particularly interesting.

“The way they explained that drones protect American lives by putting them out of harm’s way was pretty cool,” she said.

Gavin O’Leary, a 21-year-old industrial engineering junior, said the panelists did a great job discussing the topics.

“I really liked the realistic approach,” O’Leary said. “This was a really down-to-earth conversation.”

A version of this story ran on page 5 on 10/7/2013 under the headline "Nelson skips legal panel at UF, but 500 attend"

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