Community members come together to discuss Trump’s cabinet picks
Students and faculty came together in the Multicultural Center last Friday to discuss their concerns about present political events and the newly appointed cabinet members. This was a part of a larger event called called “Strike4Democracy.”
What started as single speeches by anyone who wished to go forward and speak, morphed into a circle with facilitated discussion. Both students and faculty members were present at this event and both sides were very vocal in their concerns and worries about President Donald Trump’s cabinet members.
Kelly Ebbert, senior sociology major, and Malia Erickson, sophomore Italian major, organized and promoted this event on campus. “I was really happy with the way [our event] turned out,” Ebbert said. “But I’m really glad that it was a constructive discussion that everyone was able to chip in and talk about how they felt.”
Ebbert said that the inspiration for Strike4Democracy on campus stemmed from the overwhelming feelings that were brought on by the new Trump administration.
“I was just really upset and wanted to spread messages of positivity rather than negativity,” Ebbert said. “I really want people to come together even if they’re mad at other people for not being on their side.”
Erickson was very pleased with the group discussion the last hour of the event.
“I like how there was a back and forth, too, how people could respond directly to what people said,” Erickson said. “It felt like a community.”
Multiple faculty members and students expressed concerns on how they should interact with their colleagues and friends who are in some way supporting President Donald Trump.
Loris Erickson, French professor and director of the French International Engineering Program, told everyone in the room that when facing colleagues like this, it’s important to fight for your values and to ask them why they think the way that they do. “Democracy is not a spectator sport,” he said. “You need to counter argue [those of different opinions]… it’s hard work to have an informed decisions.”
The general consensus at the event was that there needed to be discussion between your colleagues and friends who might have differing opinions. One student cautioned that you shouldn’t be scared or feel righteous when you talk to others who have different opinions than your own. “It doesn’t necessarily mean we are right,” he said, “it doesn’t mean they’re ‘the enemy’.”
Much of the discussion was on Betsy DeVos, the new Education Secretary. Many expressed distress over what the future of education looks like. Garren Jansezian, a student, played devil’s advocate during this discussion.
“We need to keep in mind this stuff has been going on long before Trump was here,” said Jansezian. “We can’t just forget the previous administration.”
At the end of the discussion, Ebbert emphasized how important it is to continue activism beyond the discussion. She said that she hopes people keep advocating for others, and to “stay on your leaders” because they are meant to represent our ideas in Washington.
Most importantly, though, Ebbert and everyone else at this event stresses the importance of education being informed during this time. “Be vocal but also pay attention to what other people have to say because you might not be completely informed on what you think you’re informed on,” Ebbert said.