Politics discussed at SA-sponsored forums
November 14, 2005 —
The SVSU Student Association presented Table Talks, a forum with a moderator and four panelists who debate political issues, on consecutive Wednesdays, Nov. 2 and 9.
The program, inspired by public television's The McLaughlin Group, was hosted by Anderson Bearden, an SA representative.
The first edition of Table Talks included discussions about the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, President George W. Bush's U.S. Supreme Court nominations, and the rezoning of Kochville Township. The panelists included students Jacob Hilliker and Taylor Chandler, and professors Mark Nicol and Dr. Joni Boye-Beaman.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is "a proposal to amend the constitution to prohibit the University of Michigan and other state universities, the state, and all other state entities from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin." It essentially eliminates Affirmative Action in the state of Michigan. Bearden asked if the SVSU SA and Faculty Association should formally condemn the initiative.
"It would be wise to at least look at the language to ensure we know what we're signing onto," Boye-Beaman said.
When Bearden asked panelists to address the appointment of Judge Samual Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, there was consensus that Alito is more qualified than Harriet Miers and that he is a safe choice for Bush.
"It will certainly solidify his base, but I don't think it will alienate moderate Republicans," Nicol said. "However, it won't prevent him from being a lame duck."
The Kocvhille Township rezoning has been a hot issue for months. Bearden cited an Oct. 31 story in the Valley Vanguard about five dead skunks being found in Dr. Stephen Yanca's yard. He inquired whether Yanca has a reasonable case against the rezoning and why someone might play such a prank on the SVSU instructor.
"This just goes back to classifying students as second class citizens," Hilliker said. "He was even quoted as calling the Cardinal Townhomes student ghettos."
Bearden asked if the rezoning was good or bad for SVSU.
"We have so many students on campus now that we can't provide for all their needs," Boye-Beaman said. "The conversation shouldn't be for or against development, but what kind of development."
The second edition included discussions about tax reform, academic integrity, and Wal-Mart. The panel included students Paul White and Trish Scott, and professors Stewart French and Dr. Eric Trump.
Bearden began the discussion by asking whether Americans paid enough taxes, who should bare the burden, and what changes should be made to the current tax system.
"I'm not super rich, but I'm better off than most students," Trump said. "I don't pay enough taxes. I waste a lot of money on stuff I don't need."
French pointed out that individuals have credit limits, whereas the federal government can spend as much as it needs to spend. He also suggested experimenting with a progressive tax system.
"Everybody should bare the tax burden because we're in this together," he said. "One of the beauties of federalism is that we have 50 little laboratories to try out these programs."
Efficiency and enforcement were factors mentioned often during the discussion as ways to improve the tax system.
"I don't think we need any more taxes, I just think we need to eliminate loopholes," White said, referring to large corporations like Wal-Mart who take advantage of tax loopholes.
The panel discussed whether Wal-Mart has a positive or negative impact on local communities.
"It's not just Wal-Mart, just look down Bay Road" White said about the economic growth along Bay Road in recent years.
According to Trump, communities with high unemployment rates benefit from corporations like Wal-Mart moving into town.
"It's wrong to say they are shutting down mom and pop stores and destroying communities when mom and pop stores employ maybe one or two people and Wal-Mart has hundreds of employees," Trump said.
Bearden asked the panelists if faculty or students are responsible for upholding academic integrity. SVSU currently has no mandatory minimum penalty for plagiarism.
White stated that it is the administration's responsibility because they should implement punishments for cheating and plagiarism that deter students from being academically dishonest.
"That's fear, not integrity," Scott argued.