This election year is an incredibly important and educational moment for the country and in my Conn experience. Like many of my fellow Camels, this is my first time voting in a major election, and I enjoy the support that we as students give each other as we make important decisions about casting our ballots. If you have the opportunity to vote this election you may feel, like I do, that selecting candidates who will do the things that you want them to do is tough, no matter how clear the outcomes appear. I have had several conversations with friends about the importance of learning about the candidates and issues when voting, no matter how polarized our politics. These conversations are important as I learn about becoming an informed and responsible citizen.
This election has given us new, interesting, different, and difficult things to talk about in every aspect of our lives here as students. Two days after the first debate, I went to a discussion about it at Harris Refectory with Professor of History Catherine Stock and Professor of Government MaryAnne Borelli. We talked about some of the finer, more academic, points about what the candidates were saying, and shared our opinions on the race. Hearing professors’ and other students’ perspectives on the election helped me realize that everyone is just as worried as I am about whether the candidates they support can and will do what they want them to do.
The election also has played into my studies. In my Confucian Traditions class, we discussed applying Confucius’ writings on morality to the behavior of today’s presidential candidates. Also, while working on a paper for my sophomore research seminar on secrecy, I compared “The Secret Accounts,” an 1871 New York Times expose on graft at City Hall with a more recent article about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s tax returns. I noticed that most of the Times’ explanation of why the secret accounts were so damning was relegated to the editorial page, whereas the article about Trump from 2016 was in the news section.
Recently, I attended a talk by Moustafa Bayoumi titled “This Muslim-American Life, in the Age of Donald Trump.” During the lecture, Bayoumi argued that today’s rhetoric regarding Muslims is a product of the way politicians have talked about Islam since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He observed that this year, President Barack Obama visited a mosque for the first time in his presidency, and suggested that he might have done so to draw a contrast with the views of his opponents. Listening to Bayoumi speak, I realized that this election is important, but it’s even more important to keep advocating and fighting for the values I believe in regardless of any election’s outcome. As a student at Conn I see myself and others working daily to raise awareness about the issues we care about that affect us and our friends, loved ones, communities, and world.