Last week Joy-Ann Reid from MSNBC visited the College of Charleston and moderated a panel discussion titled 365: The first year under the Trump administration. Mrs. Reid is a political news anchor on a Saturday morning news show titled AMJoy. The panel that she moderated consisted of 5 professors from the College of Charleston. These professors represented an array of ideals, experiences, and opinions. The interdisciplinary approach led to a diverse discussion of the opinions of not only the professors on the panel, but also their interpretations of the opinions of their students. The panel started with broader questions about whether or not the professors saw changes in the climate of CofC after Trump became president. The answers to this question was almost unanimous. The professors told stories of students of color expressing their concern just days after Trump was elected. They also discussed the rise to action that they saw in organizations such as the Black Student Union who used the opportunity to host events of unity. Near the end of the discussion the questions got more focused around things like opinions on McConnells retirement and what the professors themselves are doing to help CofC. The answers to this question varied. Some professors spoke of the protests that were held when McConnell was first hired, some spoke of the struggles of the hiring process in general, and others expressed their concern because the same individuals would be in charge of hiring the new president. When the question was presented as to whether or not the students should have a say in who the next president of CofC is, one professor said “heck yes” and all of the others agreed. One professor also pointed out that it would be in the colleges best interest to not end their interview process until they had interviewed a diverse group of people. I️ would also like to point out that when the question regarding McConnell’s retirement was announced, the entire audience broke out in to cheers. I️ think this attest to the overall dissatisfaction with a confederate war supporter being the president of our university. Overall, it was an interesting event that left many of us in the room feeling as if we could talk about politics without arguing again.
I️ truly enjoyed listening to professors at CofC speak honestly about their experiences here and the experiences of their students they have heard. However, my favorite part of the evening was having the privilege of being a part of a student session with Mrs. Reid before the panel began. Thirteen students from various ethnic backgrounds, ages, genders, and schools of study got to sit down and have an intimate discussion with Mrs. Reid for almost two hours. We got to ask her several questions and here her expert perspective on this past year and the future to come. She was not afraid of answering honestly and she commanded the room in a polite but professional manor.
After we introduced ourselves the questions began spewing out of each and everyone one of us. The first question was asked very quickly. The gentleman simply asked “How did this happen? How did we elect a man like this to represent our country when we don’t agree with what he stands for.” The first thing Mrs. Reid said was what many of us like to remind ourselves, “He did not win the popular vote.” She then went on to discuss the aspects of our democracy and how only 60% of Americans showed up to vote. The next questions centered around concern for the future. The discussion was way with Mrs. Reid. She brought it personal stories of her family life, her career, and was honest about the media’s role in perpetuating the Trump shenanigans.
I️ had originally thought the nerves might get the best of me, but when I️ finally got the nerve to ask my question I️ did so with confidence. I️ wanted to bring the conversation to a local issue because I️ am very concerned with local politics at all levels. My question was as follows: “The current CofC president seems to hold values and ideals that many of us do not agree with. He is hopefully retiring soon and we will be faced with an issue many Americans will hopefully be faced with in three years. That is that we will be in a place where we want to ensure to not elect a man anything like the one we just dealt with. Do you have any advice for the CofC community and America as a whole in regards to how we can best ensure we elect new presidents that share more of our core values and people that we are proud of?” After she asked for more background on McConnell she then proceeded to say that knowledge and activism in the form of being honest with our concerns were the two best ways to make the future better for not only CofC but America as well. I️ walked away from this experience feeling overwhelmed and anxious to continue to meet up to Mrs. Reid’s expectations. I️ hope that the other students I️ was with felt the same.