The Ben Talk, “Trump’s America: What does it mean to you?”, marked the conclusion of the social dialog series for the school year. The first in the series of Ben Talks was launched in September 2017. Once a month, faculty and/or staff would lead a discussion on an issue they find important to talk about.
The final Ben Talk of the semester, held on April 25 in Goodwin 411, featured a discussion about Trump’s Presidency. The facilitators were Karl Constant, Staff Assistant Director of Student Development; Drake Berry, PSSA President; and Raymond King, President of The College of Republicans.
Before any discussion began, the leaders made it clear that it is a safe space and that derogatory language is not permitted. They also stressed the importance of actively listening and being respectful of everyone’s opinions.
The topic was broad, but if left room for the discussion to tackle several issues. Some things said during the discussion include:
- “Often sentiment is that republicans are racist… which isn’t true”, said Drake Berry. “We say it so many times that it’s hard to separate real from fake.”
- “I’m tired of breaking news 6 times a day and the constant assault on minority groups… and it’s becoming normalized,” said a faculty member.
- “Someone who just says things like he [Trump] does makes me afraid because anyone can latch on to that,” said a BenU student.
- “I can talk about what it’s like to be transgender man in Trump’s world. I feel very tired. Someone else [America] is now seeing through my lenses and all the progress we think we’re making, but are not,” said a BenU student.
- “Progress does not work in a linear fashion… slavery ended and then Jim Crow laws put people back. LGBT communities were treated better before compared to now… progress goes up and down,” said Drake Berry.
- “Obama’s presidency deported more people, but this president [Trump] is more open and violent about it. This did not all start with Trump,” said an attendee.
- “Immigrants do not assimilate to American values… there are not adjusting to the laws,” said an attendee.
- “Why would we want to get rid of differences… we’ve lost this in our country, it’s something we should be proud about,” said a faculty member.
This talk was sponsored by Intercultural Education, Student Life, and Public Health. This series strives to use civil discourse as a means to make action here on campus.
“We wanted to create a safe space for diversity, and really tie this into our Catholic University,” said Global and Intercultural Program Coordinator Megan Benham. “It’s about hearing the students and faculty.”
The Ben Talks run off of student and faculty member ideas. Anyone may submit topic ideas and/or volunteer to be a leader of a discussion. Ideas and a request for more information may be sent to Megan Benham at Mbenham@ben.edu.