A campus conversation on what’s going on in our nation
“What’s Going On?”
This is the question Americans have been asking for the past couple weeks since President Trump came into office.
Waves of marches, bans and protests have greeted his presidency across the nation. To help alleviate some of the confusion, the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom and Professor of History Dr. Dan Margolies decided to put on an event to get students and staff talking about what has been going on in our nation.
During Trump’s campaign, he promised to build a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. One of the first things that he did when he got into office was to sign an executive order saying that construction on a wall on the southern border of the United States would start immediately. However, without funding, it will not happen.
Another executive order Trump signed at the end of January was an order on immigration. The executive order restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees from coming into the United States indefinitely.
It’s easy to stay at home and complain on social media, but if you want to make a difference you have to do something.
Assistant Professor of Political Science Antje Schwennicke was the first to speak at the event. Schwennicke is an immigrant from Germany, who first came to the United States for graduate school. She said that she was speaking as a concerned resident of this country rather than as a political science teacher. She said that even though she was angry, this wasn’t a partisan issue but an issue of solidarity and human decency.
Throughout her speech, she urged the importance of getting out there and making your voice heard.
“It’s easy to stay at home and complain on social media, but if you want to make a difference you have to do something,” Schwennicke said.
Professor of Management, Business and Economics Ehsan Salek spoke as someone who was once a part of protests against injustice. He was born in Iran and attended the National University of Iran. He spoke about how he used to do demonstrations while he was in college over injustices of dictatorship.
He finished by saying, “The tolerance of intolerance is forwardness,” a quote from one of his favorite activists, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Margolies said that when he decided to put this event together, he was feeling furious and upset over everything that has been going on in the nation and he knew that there must be other people on campus who feel the same way he does. He said that he wanted to make a safe space for everyone on campus to come together and “be pissed off together but find some way to move on.”
One thing that each speaker emphasized was the importance of calling your state representatives. They said that voicing your concerns and letting representatives know how you feel is a good way to make things change.
When the professors were done speaking, they opened the floor to students. Many students came up to voice their opinions and concerns, most of which were similar. One student in attendance was junior political science and English major Tori Pugh. She did not speak at the event, but she has been politically active since before Trump was elected.
“It is important to call your representatives, but it’s also important that you have connections with other people so everyone can be on the same page,” Pugh said.
She feels that right now it is important to talk to people about what’s going on, even if they have a different viewpoint from yours.
The event remained peaceful and even light-hearted. There was a warm feeling in the room, and although everyone might have had different opinions on the subjects being talked about, people were universally concerned about the USA.