Sean C.W. Korsgaard
The independent student engagement initiative of the political science division held a forum this past Thursday at the Student Commons to discuss the intervention in Syria.
Four political science professors led the forum. Assistant professor Chris Saladino acted as the moderator, while Faedah M. Totah, Ph.D, Mayda Topushian, Ph.D, Herb Hirsch and Bill Newmann acted as panelists. The panel discussed the issues facing the United States in Syria and abroad.
“I hope they got a diverse view of the region and the conflict. It’s a very complicated part of the world and there are a lot of nuances that many Americans find difficult to follow or understand,” Totah said. “I do hope that they got the gist of the conflict, who the main players are and what might possibly happen.”
Each of the four panelists lectured on different components of the Syrian issue, ranging from the basic background, to the problems with American foreign policy. They also discussed the reasons why the U.S. was not intervening and the different reasons why people were for and against intervention.
“It’s a credibility issue, the U.S. said if (chemical weapons) were used, then they would intervene,” Saladino said.
Students present at the forum had various reactions to the discussion as they expressed their opinions during the question and answer portion.
“I already had a prior interest in what’s happening in Syria, but I found the discussion very informative, especially given the opposing views discussed,” said Nina Mahmoudpour, a senior political science major.
On the other hand, some students hoped for a more extended conversation.
“I would have liked to have heard more debate,” said William Keesee, junior chemical engineering major. “I enjoyed it, but it seemed they dodged a lot of the bigger questions.”
The professors said the purpose of the forum was to spark student engagement with national and international issues. While they enjoyed seeing their students getting involved, Saladino said that this was just a kickoff event for many other student engagement programs to come during this school year.
“We want to make it clear to the university that we’re doing this stuff, we’ve been doing this stuff and we’ll continue to do this stuff,” Saladino said. “It’s a student’s right to be exposed to these things and also their obligation to participate in these things.”