Engaging Minds and Appetites: A Semester Recap of Pizza and Politics

April 25, 2024 - Features

by Cas Casmus | Pizza & Politics Coordinator


A group of SAB students attend the “Landscape of Gun Laws” program at the Dole Institute of Politics.



Pizza and Politics, a relaxed program designed for students, complete with complimentary pizza! This initiative brings together KU students and local professionals across diverse fields, from 2nd amendment rights to the Supreme Court to economics, ensuring there’s something of interest for everyone. These informal gatherings provide students with a comprehensive exploration of pertinent issues, fostering an environment where questions are encouraged, and interaction with guests is welcomed.


Lawrence City Commissioner Lisa Larsen (left) and Lawrence Director of Homeless Programs Misty Bosch-Hastings pose for a photograph after “Homelessness Insights and Initiatives in Lawrence.”


We started off the semester with the first Pizza and Politics on February 9th with Lisa Larsen, the former Mayor of Lawrence, and Misty Bosch-Hastings, the Director of Homeless Programs in Lawrence. They discussed the plans of the city to reach functional zero homelessness in Lawrence and the fiscal plans to support the unhoused. This event was hosted in partnership with the Honors Program, which exposed P&P to a new subset of KU Students and attracted many community-involved students.

The following P&P on March 4th, we hosted Amii Castle and Stephen McAllister, two Law Professors from the KU School of Law. During the program, we learned that Professor McAllister was Castle’s first professor in law school, who inspired her to become the professor she is today. They worked seamlessly together during the interview and answered questions ranging from Trump’s name being contested on state ballots, to privacy laws, first amendment rights, and illegal immigration.


KU School of Law professors Amii Castle (center) and Stephen McAllister (right) speak about the Supreme Court at an evening Pizza and Politics program.


On April 2nd, we had two guests from the Kansas Legislature. Representative Hoye (D) and Senator Blasi (R) examined the landscape of gun laws in Kansas. Despite their significant disagreements on gun policy, they maintained an understanding attitude and demonstrated respectful civil discourse. They considered the root causes of increased gun violence in America and the ideal limitations, if any, of gun possession, and how the two parties can reconcile their differences.

In my final Pizza and Politics Program on April 12th, we hosted two journalists to give a recap of the 2024 Kansas Legislative Session. John Hanna from the Associated Press highlighted LGBTQ+ issues that have come to surface in the legislature and how we can expect other issues, such as reproductive rights, to influence the outcome of the 2024 re-election races. Jonathan Shorman, the Lead Political Reporter of the Kansas City Star, brought to light the legislature’s efforts to single out foreign firms and the potential future of Medicaid Expansion in Kansas. Both guests gave us valuable insights into the inner workings of the legislature, and what we can expect in 2025.


Pizza and Politics Coordinator Cas Casmus (left) speaks with Associated Press reporter John Hanna during a program recapping the Kansas State Legislature.


As I bid farewell to my role as Pizza and Politics Coordinator at the Dole Institute, I can’t help but reflect on the incredible experience it’s been. I am immensely grateful to have had the opportunity to make invaluable connections in my community, bridge the gap between public servants and students, and work alongside so many talented staff members.



Cas Casmus is the Pizza and Politics Coordinator at the Dole Institute of Politics. As such, Cas hosts engaging discussions with community and state leaders to promote civic discussion and political engagement at the University of Kansas, where she is a junior studying philosophy. She is also a cadet in the KU Army ROTC program.

About the Dole Institute
The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, a vibrant forum for civil discourse, civic engagement, and idea exchange across the political spectrum, features historical archives, exhibits, and public programs for all ages. Inspired by the public service of native Kansan, veteran, legislator, and statesman Senator Bob Dole and his wife Senator Elizabeth Dole, visitor galleries feature changing exhibits, the Kansas Veterans Virtual Memory Wall, architectural-scale stained glass American flag, and September 11 memorial.

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