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The Mass Media

Experiencing The Edward M. Kennedy Institute

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Interactive exhibits are projected along the inner the walls of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. An on-site cafe is pictured here in the background. 

On approaching the institute, draped in an elegant pairing of white and grey, visitors are greeted with a pathway. Lining either side of this pathway are miniature marble pillars representing the Fifty States, each named and given the number of when they entered the union.
Upon walking in visitors are welcomed by the reception desk and then guided to the beginning of their orientation. The orientation is to educate visitors about the United States Senate and about Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s life and career within the Senate. The orientation itself is presented by staffers and a video. It is several minutes in length, based on the Senate, Ted Kennedy, and includes instructions on the usage of the institution’s Senate Immersion Module (SIM) tablet.
Each visitor is provided a tablet, varying from grade to grade, and with it they are allowed to emulate a Senator’s position and duty. Visitors, referred to as “Senators in Training”, are taught how to interact with each exhibit utilizing the tablet that they have been given.
Most interestingly though, they are taught how to use the tablet to choose a political party, a state, and once that is completed, throughout the day the Senators in Training are able to vote in a program they call “Today’s Vote.” The Edward M. Kennedy Institute website (emkinstitute.org) describes Today’s Vote as an opportunity for visitors to, “participate [in] a live floor debate on an active piece of legislation being considered by the real Senate in Washington, D.C.” The piece of legislation varies based on what bill is actually presented on the Senate floor. All of the visitors are able to conduct their debate and votes in a replica or representation of the United States Senate Chamber.
Above the replica chamber is a balcony that surrounds the entire room with a multitude of seats to accommodate large or multiple groups that may desire to participate in the mock vote. This representation of the Senate Chamber is the centerpiece of the institution with a corridor that wraps around it. On the walls of the corridor are video presentations that provide the visitor with a vast array of history and facts, including every Senator with their name and state under every administration ranging from the beginning of the Senate to the present. The walls even display the current bills that are on the Senate floor.
Yet, to bring it all home, to remind us all why we have such an institute to visit, there is an exhibit about Edward M. Kennedy’s life and his work: his Washington D.C. office. It is an exact replica of the office that he worked in; even though the room itself is different, all of its contents were once Ted Kennedy’s personal belongings.
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is truly an experience to be had and they have been gracious enough to grant free admission to the University of Massachusetts Boston’s students, faculty, and staff.
The history is ours and the experience awaits.