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NBC NEWS AND MEET THE PRESS INTRODUCE NEW DIGITAL SERIES SHOWCASING COLLEGE JOURNALISM – MEET THE PRESS: COLLEGE ROUNDTABLE

JOURNALISM STUDENTS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO INTERVIEW DECISION MAKERS EACH WEEK

NEW EPISODES TO STREAM WEEKLY ON NBC NEWS NOW AND NBC NEWS DIGITAL PLATFORMS

ON THE FIRST EPISODE: CHUCK TODD IS JOINED BY STUDENTS FROM FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY, THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN AND GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

This morning, NBC News and Meet the Press released the first episode of Meet the Press: College Roundtable. The new series brings together college journalism students from across the country for a weekly, virtual panel discussion diving into the issues affecting them, their communities and the future of their education.

With the coronavirus pandemic uprooting what would have been the end of the traditional academic year and ushering in an era of uncertainty for the future of higher education, Meet the Press: College Roundtable features these students’ voices, questions and experiences. For the next five weeks, students will share their insight and analysis and showcase their interview skills by posing questions to decision makers on the topics that matter most to them.

This emerging generation of journalists, along with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd, will identify both the discussion topics and newsmakers, while working hand-in-hand with the Meet the Press editorial team to shape the student-led conversations.

Chuck Todd opened the inaugural episode saying, “When Meet the Press first aired over 70 years ago, it was a very different format than what you see today. A moderator brought together a panel of journalists who took turns asking questions of a single guest. For this five-part series we are going back to that model and giving college journalists the opportunity to ask questions they want answers to, from guests that they want to hear from. So, let's Meet the College Press.”

New episodes will stream each Thursday at 9:45 p.m. on NBC News NOW and will be available every Friday on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBC News’ YouTube channel, NBC News’ Stay Tuned on Snapchat, and on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.

ON THIS WEEK’S COLLEGE ROUNDTABLE:

This week’s roundtable features Gabe Fleisher, an incoming freshman at Georgetown University; Aiyana Ishmael, a rising senior at Florida A&M University; and Sami Sparber, a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin.

The group tackled a key topic on the minds of current and future students, parents, professors and public health professionals: what steps are universities taking to keep students and staff safe amid a global pandemic?

The group of student journalists interviewed two experts in higher education and healthcare, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard University, and Dr. Robert Robbins, president of the University of Arizona, both of whom are medical doctors. As heads of their respective universities, Dr. Frederick and Dr. Robbins are facing two vastly different challenges: a historic university in a densely populated urban area, and a large university drawing students from across the country.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

INCOMING GEORGETOWN STUDENT GABE FLEISHER ASKS DR. WAYNE A.I. FREDERICK IF HOWARD UNIVERSITY WILL FOLLOW THE SAME RECOMMENDATIONS HE MADE TO MAYOR BOWSER FOR K-12 SCHOOLS TO REOPEN

Gabe Fleisher: “You're a member of Mayor Bowser’s advisory group and that you recommended that K-12 schools that they shouldn't reopen fully until there’s vaccines, and that there's gonna be a limit of 10 people to a class. I'm wondering if your plans at Howard will be following those recommendations and also not fully reopen up until there is a vaccine.”

Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick: “I'm not sure that we will adopt the same K-12 guidelines, I think we will look at social distancing instead of physical distancing. So, we may not actually have a number per class it may be, you know, feet away. We also will look at where the teacher would be based on the configuration of the class or the auditorium, and what other steps we need to think of -- face coverings may be necessary in a classroom setting.”

Gabe Fleisher: “I’m curious, what is the difference in the public health rationale between K-12 and college? Why is that?”

Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick: “There's a lot more personal responsibility that we can rely upon. So, your ability to practice hygiene, follow the rules of not picking up and touching things that you shouldn't, your ability when you go to restrooms and other public places or even opening doors and potentially using tissue napkins as you do those things. You have a lot more capacity to be given a set of guidelines that you can then follow, and subsequently enforce in your own personal behavior.”

“There's also a risk that you are a lot more social in the sense of being able to move off campus and move around doing other things so we have to keep that into consideration as well. I think with the young college students, if we give you a set of guidance and a rationale behind why we want you to take it and measures and actions, I think that you guys will be able to follow those very well.”

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UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN STUDENT SAMI SPARBER ASKS UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESIDENT IF HE IS PREPARED TO CLOSE THE CAMPUS IN THE FALL SHOULD THERE BE AN OUTBREAK

Sami Sparber: “Are you prepared to close the campus again if the honor system, I hear you have, does not work out? If students don't listen, are you prepared to close the campus, if it came to that?”

Dr. Robert Robbins: “Yeah, absolutely. And, of course, that's my worst case scenario -- that we bring everybody back and everybody's following the rules and come around election time, people let their guard down … We have the second wave coming, which is unavoidable obviously, but people aren't as meticulous to attention to detail as they had been, and we have, you know, a massive spike, our hospitals become overwhelmed. We would absolutely close the campus.”

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HOWARD UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT TELLS FLORIDA A&M STUDENT AIYANA ISHMAEL THAT ALL STUDENTS WILL BE LIVING IN A “NEW REALITY” IN THE FALL, THAT OUR SOCIETY STRUCTURE “WILL BE CHANGED FOREVER”:

Aiyana Ishmael: “As someone who is very involved on campus, I think it's important as a college student to get the most out of their experience. How do you plan to get prospective students to come attend your university when, for many students, college isn't just about the education but building a network and joining organizations and becoming a leader?”

Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick: “That's a great question. I have three degrees from Howard University for that very reason. It was an absolute great incubator for my skill set and for infusing me with confidence and, as I tell students and parents, you'll get about 20 percent of that from being in the classroom, but 80 percent of it will occur from what happens outside of the classroom.”

“I think we all are going to be living in a new reality, and we all are going to adjust and maybe go to jobs, there will be more teleworking. I think our society structure and engagement will be changed forever. I remind my kids, who were born after 9/11, that there was one time where you could walk all the way up almost at the door of the plane to kiss a loved one goodbye. This is what we think is normal today and what they think is normal.”

“I don't think that the human condition can succumb to isolation. A key part of the human condition is interaction. And one thing I am confident about with young students, like yourself, is that you will overcome that barrier of social distancing and so on to still insist, and ensure, that you make those network connections, and that you still have that ability to interact and grow and we have to obviously be flexible in creating different ways and innovative ways to do that.”

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Media contacts

For more information, contact:

Richard Hudock
NBC News
o: (202) 885-4159
e: Richard.Hudock@nbcuni.com

Joya Manasseh
NBC News
o: (212) 664-2498
e: Joya.Manasseh@nbcuni.com

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