Unrig the System Summit unites political adversaries against corruption


Colin Yaccarino | Photography Editor

Unrig the System Summit attendees were invited to take a selfie and promote their attendance at the event, which was created by Represent.us.

Activists, politicians and celebrities gathered on Tulane’s campus last week from Feb. 2-4 for the first-ever Unrig the System Summit.

The Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life was the headquarters for a series of panels and workshops run by experts in their respective fields, each unpacking and discussing present issues in American politics in the hopes of eventually remedying the United States’ political system.

The summit focused on the importance of engaging in all sides of contemporary political discussions and featured speakers from diverse political backgrounds. Organized by Represent.Us, a non-profit organization which focuses its efforts on passing anti-corruption laws, Unrig the System centered on bridging the gap between left- and right-leaning constituents.

Despite being hosted on Tulane’s campus, the cost to attend the event was fairly prohibitive for most college students, with registration prices starting at $300. In an effort to make the event more accessible to a generation essential to changing the political system, an $85 student rate was offered.

The summit opened with the Welcome Plenary featuring Academy-Award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, who interviewed Trevor Potter, a former FEC chairman and Stephen Colbert’s super-PAC lawyer, about bribery in politics. The plenary continued with former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, Native American tribal rights attorney Tara Houska and several other leading authorities on the law of elections.

Panels such as “A Presidential Election for Everyone: Fixing the Electoral College,” “Citizen Lobbying 101” and “The System Matters. Does Your Vote?” were among the most well-attended, with hundreds present at each across the three-day conference.

Despite its important purpose, Unrig the System wasn’t all politics. The entertainment portion of the summit commenced at night, after the day-time panels. The Howlin’ Wolf hosted the Friday Night Welcome Party, which included an open bar happy hour and live music from local musicians.

The following evening was Unrigged Live! in McAlister Auditorium. Hosted by Lawrence and Adam McKay, there were speakers including Represent.Us Director Josh Silver and former NASA astronaut Ron Garan, comedians Nikki Glaser and Adam Yenser, and live music from HoneyHoney and the Preservation All-Stars.

Sunday afternoon wrapped up the summit with the Closing Plenary held in Kendall Cram Lecture Hall. This last session included multiple short speeches by anti-corruption activists from organizations including End Citizens United, Take Back Our Republic and Issue One. Republican Representative for Wisconsin Michael Gallagher and Democrat Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard spoke the closing remarks, concluding the first Unrig the System Summit.

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