Two USD graduates returned to campus for a special event. Iconic journalist Tom Brokaw and Russia expert Robert Legvold shared their opinions on United States and Russia relations.
The alumni held a question and answer session with USD students and community members in the afternoon.
Brokaw fondly remembers his time growing up in South Dakota and as an undergraduate at USD.
“I will always be connected to this state,” Brokaw said.
Legvold said he also fondly remembers his time at USD. He’s only been able to visit USD three times in the past 50 years.
After reflecting on his time at USD, Brokaw discussed where America stands today.
“America is in a very fractured state – racially, politically, culturally and socially,” he said.
Brokaw said he believes this fracture began with the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and has worsened due to the recession and the war in Iraq.
Legvold discussed why this current “cold war” with Russia is different from the first Cold War.
“Today each side blames the other exclusively; (there is) no interest in how we did this dance together, because of what we believe the other side is,” Legvold said.
Legvold said there may be reason to believe there’ll be nuclear war within the first half of the 21st century.
“Today, the future is a large question mark,” he said.
Legvold said tension isn’t going to lessen until something fundamental changes. He believes other powerful countries such as Pakistan, India and China will influence the conflict between the United States and Russia.
After the two men shared their background knowledge, the microphone was available for students and community members to ask questions.
Malachi Petersen, public administration graduate student and former editor-and-chief of The Volante, asked Brokaw what role media plays in the new Cold War.
“Media is the whole universe and now, the media is a global enterprise,” Brokaw said.
Brokaw said although information is available at just a keystroke, consumers must be aggressive in finding reliable resources.
“It may not be as fun as watching the Kardashians, but it’s better for our country,” Brokaw said.
Sarah Bechen, a first-year student studying media and journalism, said she appreciated how Brokaw and Legvold discussed the cooperation that needs to happen between the United States and Russia.
“What stood out the most was the way they both talked about the strategic cooperation that needs to happen, but will most likely not happen until a big change in the Russian government occurs, such a Putin stepping down from power,” Bechen said.
Megan Turner, a first-year student studying business marketing and event planning, said she thought Brokaw and Legvold had engaging speaking styles that kept the discussion on track.
“I like when speakers are able to make jokes, yet still stay on topic,” Turner said.
Brokaw graduated from USD with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1964. He went on to become the anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” from 1982 to 2004.
Legvold graduated from USD in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Now, he’s a professor emeritus at Columbia University and specializes in Russian relations.
Brokaw concluded the night with a story of how soldiers in World War II would use their clickers to signal for help if they were stuck behind enemy lines. He explained how it didn’t matter to the responders what their religion was, or who they voted for in the last election. They just knew their fellow American needed help, and would come to their aid.
He encouraged the audience to have a similar mentality, and to support their fellow Americans.