The Shepherd students that attended the Black Student Union’s election discussion showed that they are prepared to embrace each other and share their opinions in a civil and respectful manner.
While many at the discussion disagreed with each other and were not about to agree on every point, the tone of the meeting was that of acceptance and a desire to move forward while still fighting for their strongly held views.
“No matter what our beliefs may be, this is a space where we try to keep an open mind and have respectful discussions,” said Naim Muhammad, president of the club.
The meeting was held in the library on Nov. 15, very near the end of the semester, but about 20 students still showed up ready to engage in a spirited debate. The discussion was moderated by Muhammad and Lance Wines, the club’s social media coordinator.
The most contentious issue of the debate was surrounding the past political record not of Donald Trump, but of his running mate and now Vice-President-elect Mike Pence. Daisy Thomas expressed concerns regarding Pence’s past support of conversion therapy, a practice she described as attempting to “electroshock the gay out of people.”
Others in the discussion voiced similar concerns and shared a fear that LGBTQ rights may be in jeopardy in a Trump administration. The nuance of what Pence actually voted for was not agreed upon by several members of the discussion, and remained unresolved.
A common theme among many of the participants was frustration with the Electoral College.
“The Electoral College was formed because the founders believed the people to be not educated enough to make a decision about who the president should be,” said Wines.
Thomas expressed anger that “Clinton won the popular vote, but did not win the presidency.” Others were frustrated with the idea that the votes of people living in solidly blue or red states mattered less than those living in swing states.
The electoral college was in fact devised by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison during the Constitutional Convention. The original intent was for the people in their respective states to elect an educated representative, or elector, to then cast a vote for president in place of the average person.
The electors would be selected without any indication of who the people favored for president. However in practice this quickly changed and electors are no longer elected by the people. Electors also now cast their votes in accordance with the candidate the majority of people of their state vote for.
The finite number of electors in the electoral college also means that it is possible for a candidate to receive more votes in the electoral college while simultaneously losing the popular vote, as has happened in the recent 2000 and 2016 elections. Since a candidate only needs to win the right combination of states to reach 270 electoral votes, the number of votes cast in the remaining states essentially means nothing.
As the conversation wound down, Wines left the group with some facts and figures to ponder. “Many in politics, Trump included, suggest that taxes should be lowered while the United States in fact has the third lowest tax rate among the developed world, and has the highest disparity of wealth in the world,” said Wines.