Students, professors contemplate transfer of political power

Illustration by Marisa Stratton

Sahara Sriraman, Contributing Writer

As the early days of President Joe Biden’s administration unfold in Washington, members of the VCU community anticipate ripple effects to be felt at the university level in culture and policy. 

The effects from the first days of Biden’s administration will “bleed out into the community almost like a domino effect,” political science professor Deirdre Condit said.

Condit, who holds a doctorate in political science, said VCU will undergo a variety of changes that range from immediate to more gradual. 

“Immediately, we don’t know what some of the changes will be because the political landscape is very incendiary, and the inauguration will fuel that,” Condit said. “Therefore, the city might feel a little unsettled during this time.” 

Condit said that if Biden calls for Americans to wear masks for 100 days and COVID-19 vaccines are administered to students and faculty, she believes the university will be able to get back to normal. 

Atoosa Haghani, the President Emeritus of VCU’s Young Democrats, expects the transition to divide the campus in various ways.

“The peaceful transition has been something that has been embedded in America’s democracy since George Washington turned down a third term,” Haghani said.

Haghani says that once Biden becomes president, people will think more with their heads instead of their emotions. She said one silver lining of the pandemic may be that people are more informed about current affairs. 

“We’re viewing the transition as something that, obviously, should happen and is basically inevitable,” said VCU’s College Republicans Vice President Isaiah Hicks.

Haghani said VCU, along with other universities, should make more changes to its institutional policies, such as acknowledging that the land VCU is on once belonged to people of color, so that minority groups can feel protected. 

“If VCU wants to hold this platform of inclusivity and diversity, then they should try implementing that at its core, within its students, so that they feel safe on campus,” Haghani said.

Vice president of VCU’s College Republicans Isaiah Hicks said his group and other political student groups on campus can ensure peaceful transitions of power in the future by acknowledging certified results but continuing to advocate for their beliefs.

“We can still push for changes on the local level, or the core levels, or even in the next four years when there’s another presidential race,” Hicks said.

Hicks said he hopes VCU becomes more tolerant of different viewpoints.

Regarding Biden’s plans for a mask mandate and vaccine rollout, Hicks said VCU will likely benefit from these plans, especially when it comes to protecting families of students and faculty.

Hicks said the new presidential term might encourage people to get more involved with political groups on campus, but that future politicians will view this year’s transfer of power as a negative example. 

“We’re viewing the transition as something that, obviously, should happen and is basically inevitable,” Hicks said.

A previous version of this story misspelled Deirdre Condit’s first name. It has been corrected.

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