Students got a look inside the complicated world of impeachment policy with Daniel Bennett, associate professor of political science, and Miguel Rivera, adjunct instructor of political science, at the “What the Heck is Impeachment Anyways?” forum.
The forum, sponsored and supported by John Brown University’s Residence Life staff on Jan. 29, focused on educating the typical citizen on what exactly the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump signifies for the U.S.
“In general, our forums are an opportunity for students to engage with a topic,” Emily Callon, the resident director of Walker Residence Hall, said. “We work to choose a relevant topic and invite a variety of faculty and staff experts and perspectives, in addition to a few students. We try to create space for discussion as well. We see these as a ‘launching pad’ for further exploration. We hope you are able to learn, and we hope that you leave with more questions.”
Due to the upcoming election and the increasingly heated political climate, events like the impeachment forum are becoming more common. Just two days after the impeachment forum, there was a talk sponsored by the Philosophy, Politics and Economics program with University of Oklahoma professor and history chair Bill McClay about why the U.S. currently uses a two party system.
Rivera shared his perspective on campus forums. “Student and faculty forums that encourage discussion and exploration of current political and governmental topics, like impeachment and why we have a two party system, are important not just for the information that is shared and the things that can be learned by engaging in dialogue,” Rivera said. “These events are important for helping students develop their own political positions on important issues facing the electorate and citizens generally.”
While the talk was almost two hours long, some of the audience members said they were left with only vague conclusions after the discussion. “I left the talk more confused about Trump’s impeachment trial than when I came in,” Julia Mattis, sophomore digital cinema major, said. “I think the points made were far too general and neutral for my taste. It felt like there was a lot of beating around the bush in order to not offend one side or the other.”
The discussion concerning the intersection of faith and politics has grown on JBU’s campus, as a number of students will be voting for the first time in the upcoming 2020 election. “How we react and formulate opinions regarding these issues and how these issues intersect with our faith are important and necessary parts of becoming active, Christian citizens and advocates for faith in the public space,” Rivera said.
Residence Life currently has more events and forums in the works to help students build a political foundation. “We do believe in the importance of educational programming, which is why we supported this event and then why we also do the forums,” Callon said. “It gives you an opportunity to continue to explore and likely means that your thoughts or previous perceptions were challenged. Our first forum of the semester on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 5:30-7 p.m. is about voting—the importance of it and engaging topics around and leading up to voting.”