“Student Town Hall Meeting: Unrest in America”

Vice President of student affairs, Tom Bowling, giving closing remarks.
Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Tom Bowling, gives closing remarks.

On Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. a Student Town Hall meeting occurred in Lane University Center’s Atkinson Room. The town hall meeting was centered around current unrest in the country, and was set up with many round tables with students and some administrators.

The event lasted for an hour and a half, and students shared opposing thoughts on issues. To keep the event civil, students were given a mic when it was there turn to speak. “This is about dialogue. It’s all about creating dialogue,” Tim Magrath, the mediator, stated. He then went over the significance of hearing conflicting opinions on many topics and set the tone for respecting each other during the event.

In addition, he gave a explanation of the school’s new Democracy Wall. There was an unveiling of it after the event. Magrath believes the wall that allows student to express their opinions via twitter is a nice alternative to the chalking that is often seen around campus.

After the explanation of the new wall, he gave the mic to the first student willing to bring up a topic. The first student brought up the connection between Kapernick’s kneeling and the army using football to promote propaganda. “The military puts money into multiple support for military propaganda for support for the troops,” the political science major said. He then questioned if using tax payers’ money to spread the agenda of military recruitment is ethical. He believed that not everyone is aware of the correlation between the NFL and the military.

Magrath then posed the question of the flag being a symbol for all Americans and not solely for military purposes. An active military member answered the question: “The Flag represents everybody, not just how strong we are. It’s not supposed to be a symbol of just the military; it’s supposed to also represent people who’ve crossed bridges and protested,” he stated. To him, the flag represents American history as a whole.

After introducing himself, Jacob Beaver addressed the topic. “Even though the military does give funds for sports and all that, it doesn’t necessarily mean these NFL players get to give away their rights for free speech, because technically they are not a part of the military,” Beaver said. He then talked about players keeping their first amendment right, which includes kneeling.

Many students shared the sentiment of Beaver. However, some had opposing thoughts. “If you are working for someone else you’re going to have to abide to the rules for that company and that goes for the NFL and that goes for all of us,” a student retorted.” This student did not believe that players’ first amendment rights were being abridged.

Multiple students voiced their opinion on the matter, and then gears changed. Attendees began discussing President  Trump and the power of voting. “Question for everyone: how many people actually voted in the past election?,” a student asked. Half of the room raised their hands; some students said they were not old enough to exercise the right. The student told the crowd that Donald Trump would not have been elected if the millennial age actually voted. Furthermore, he expressed his concern with the low turn out rate for the age group.

“If you want to make change go out and vote, or wait until the old people die out so we can get in positions of power and we can change it,” the student passionately expressed. Another student reminded him that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and that the electoral system college benefited our current president.

Once time winded down, Dr. Tom Bowling, Vice President for Student Affairs, gave the closing remarks of the event.

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