Professors talk politics

Catherine Hyman, Copy Editor

FMU College Democrats sponsored Professors After Dark to give students the opportunity to learn from their professors’ political knowledge.

The event was formed to show the professors’ knowledge and opinions about political issues directly affecting the 2016 election.

Professors After Dark was held in the evening of Nov. 2. Some of the professors who participated included Dr. Dillon Tatum, assistant professor of political science; Candace Lapan, assistant professor of psychology; and Dr. William Bolt, assistant professor of history.

According to sophomore political science major and College Democrats President Precious McLaughlin, the purpose of the event was to have FMU faculty, staff and students come together to be informed.

“We hoped that by seeing [them] come together, more members of the FMU community would be more aware of the different topics discussed at the presidential debates and be comfortable about voting in the upcoming election and exercising the right that they have as citizens of the United States,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said that many of the professors who spoke were former professors of College Democrats’ officers or were volunteers.

The event began with an introduction and greeting from McLaughlin, followed by questions she prepared that she directed to the panel of professors.

The first question McLaughlin asked was what the professors’ ideal candidates would be like. Dr. David White, FMU political science and geography department chair, said that he would like someone to be a moderate. White said that someone who is willing to compromise would be his ideal candidate because he believes that the presidency should represent the country well.

The professors discussed political issues such as foreign policy and environmental issues. They also discussed voting issues they said were important in this election.

According to Dr. Mark Blackwell, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, a possible problem with the lack of voter turnout is a lack of knowledge about candidates’ policies and how they affect citizens.

“If you don’t know the issues that affect you, it won’t compel you to vote,” Blackwell said.

Lapan said that social media is providing people with new ways to spread information and further their political views, but to participate in a democracy, the most important thing is to vote.

Although only three students attended this event, McLaughlin said that she thought the event was successful because the professors gave informative responses that helped her and others view political issues in new ways.

“My hopes for Professors After Dark were that students who were on the fence about voting in the election and those who wanted to understand more about each of the candidates’ platforms would leave the event more informed and assured that their vote is indeed important,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said that she hopes the event was as eye-opening for the audience members as it was for her. She said that she believed that the audience’s questions were answered and they were more prepared to participate in the election process.

To McLaughlin, voting is not only a right that Americans have, but also it is a sacred duty. This is why she takes events such as Professors After Dark so seriously, she said.

“I hope that they begin to look at the political process as something that is mandatory to participate in and not optional,” McLaughlin said.

Upcoming College Democrats events include a “Night of Inspiration” on Dec. 1 – a concert featuring Stellar Award winner Kendra Smith among other artists and guest speaker Michael Blue.