Forum weighs issues relevant to election

On March 19, the Christians for Biblical Equality and the Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee sponsored a forum entitled Gender, Race and the Presidential Election: Is America Really Ready For Change? A panel of students, professors and guests discussed the upcoming presidential election in front of a large audience.

Dr. Kathy Lee, head of the political science department, was the facilitator for the evening. Jackie Irving, career counselor & director of the Multi-Cultural Advisory Board, opened the evening with an introduction.

Panel members included sophomore Jennifer Elmer, senior Michael Skinner, junior Shaffar Savoy, senior Bobby Desulme, first-year Paul Charles and senior Marvin Jones. Professors Nathan Coleman, Ron Sider and Sharon Gramby Sobukwe as well as author and activist Ulysses Slaughter were also members of the panel.

Student panelists brought up issues such as the desire to see the youth of America more engaged in political activism. Youth ministry major Bobby Desulme and communications studies major and SGA President Marvin Jones emphasized the importance of looking at the character of the politicians. Shafarr Savoy, a Biblical studies major, made the point that as Americans we should be pledging allegiance to God first and foremost. Paul Charles, a Biblical studies major from England, made the point that American politics are in a “strange situation.” He questioned whether or not America is really ready for a female or an African-American president, and if it would actually be a white male, John McCain, who holds the solution for the future.

Professor panelist Sharon Gramby Sobukwe said that we “must be active and engaged beyond every four years.” She said it really is not enough just to vote and then detach oneself. Looking at the issues that the American public is faced with in this presidential election, Professor Nathan Coleman of the Biblical studies department said, “Racism and sexism are always the white elephant in the room … to avoid them will mean we will not move forward.”

The issues of race and gender were addressed throughout the discussion, although the issue of race was discussed in more depth. In addition, Ulysses Slaughter said, “We are the force behind the politics, and we have abdicated that responsibility.”

Many audience members, as well as panelists, pointed out the importance of not only voting but moving beyond that and working towards real change. As Desulme put it, “We are called to change the world.”

The discussion was opened to the audience, and a lively and interesting conversation ensued. The discussion moved from the two-party system to looking at specific issues such as third parties and how Christians should act and vote in the future. Tensions ran high, and the discussion flew back and forth between panelists and audience members, as many thoughts and ideas were shared. Dr. Lee made the point that “Christians are not monolithic”, and it can be dangerous to claim that there is one Christian position on politics in general.

“We only anticipate this to be the beginning of a much longer conversation,” Dr. Lee said.

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