MAGGIE ELIAS ’17
On Thursday, Nov. 12 during Common Hour, Student Government Association’s (SGA) Academic Affairs Committee hosted a discussion centered around the issues of the 2016 Presidential Election.
Chipotle catered the event, and attendees queued up to get food, the line meandering to Vernon Social, almost to the door. The event had markedly higher attendance than most other SGA events, and the Chipotle supply gave out quickly under the weight of the audience numbering more than 70 students.
A panel of professors from various departments served as the anchor for the discussion and provided interesting and educational perspectives in the context of their fields of study. John Alcorn of the Language and Culture Studies Department, Ben Carbonetti of the International Studies Department, and Mark Silk of the Religion Department. Each professor had a very unique contribution to the discussion. Professor Silk was able to give a broad historical perspective in the context of past elections from his experience as a journalist, as well as a cogent analysis of the problems and goals of the disparate candidates across the two parties. Professor Alcorn expounded upon his idea that the United States’ borders should be more porous, not less so. He referred to the United States’ relatively restrictive immigration policy as “Global Apartheid,” and advocated for entirely open borders. He further expressed his disappointment that the issue of immigration has become such a divisive and politicized hot-button issue, precluding citizens from rationally considering the realistic benefits and problems with different proposed immigrations laws. Professor Carbonetti had a more level-headed analysis, picking apart the relative strengths of the two parties, the demographic shifts within the states and across the nation that will likely impact voting trends, and the public perception of the more salient issues upon which both voters and candidates have been arguing at great length over the past months.
This student discussion is in line with the initiative SGA has been taking to engage more completely with the student body. In years past the SGA has been distant and out-of-touch, but this year the SGA is looking to interact and better the school in as many ways as possible.