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Political Science professor John DiIulio pleaded for the 15 students in front of him to run for office Thursday.

“Every one of you: please run for office. If you care about these issues at all, please consider it,” he said.

The talk was part of Integrity Week — hosted by the University Honor Council — which featured DiIulio, the Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Political Science, as its keynote speaker. Talking primarily about ethics in politics, DiIulio also addressed media’s role in politics and several gibes about his own age, and elicited a multitude of questions from the audience.

Those who attended listened as DiIulio spoke about political ethics, a topic which doesn’t get “a lot of attention from academics,” in his opinion.

DiIulio said that much of today’s frustration with politics comes from public perception. Citing a recent Gallup poll, he said that 55 percent of Americans seem to think that congressmen have low ethical standards, placing them “literally just above used-car salesmen.”

DiIulio attributed the origin of these perceptions mainly to the media, saying “infotainment loves ethical lapses — it exaggerates them,” and “calling somebody a bad name will get you headline.”

With the negative press surrounding politics, DiIulio said, “the central belief is it’s just inherently corrupt, and that’s a very interesting change” from previous decades.

Opening the floor for questions, one member of the audience asked about the morality of College sophomore Isabel Friedman’s questioning of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s personal life. “I think it’s entirely fair game, and it’s always been fair game” — even, he said, “since the earliest days of the Republic.”

Though Lucas Blanchard, co-chairman of the University Honor Council and Wharton junior, said the turnout “could have been better,” he added that the smaller audience opened up “the possibility of more honest discussion” and that “a person’s question could be answered more accurately.

College sophomore Chris Shimamoto, who serves on the Editorial Board of the Penn Political Review, which also co-sponsored the event, said that “considering how prominent the professor is” he was surprised that not many people came to the discussion.

Seeing a professor “willing to engage students” in this political discussion, however, “was a refreshing change in my perspective,” he added.

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