As the presidential election becomes more and more heated with accusations and slander, Loomis has addressed these current events through “Presidential Election Salons.” The last of these meetings took place in the Nee Room in Founders on October 18th. While the previous discussion have focused on the economic and foreign policies of the candidates, primarily Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the most recent discussion addressed their opinions on human rights issues. This talk began with both Rachel Ramenda ’18 and Madie Leidt ’17, whom were chosen to read their submissions. The first statement talked about a range of topics, including LGBTQ+ and immigration rights, while Madie spoke about gun rights and the importance of creating stricter background checks. This topic sparked conversation within the room, starting with the buyback on guns in Australia and the possible implementation of the law in America. Some advocated the importance of stricter gun laws and background checks in order to limit the amount of gun violence. However, others believed that this could be an infringement on the second amendment and that guns give people the power to protect themselves. These opposing opinions on gun control started a debate that continued addressing other topics like the mental health issue, until the conversation was stopped by Mr. LaForest who opened the discussion to other important human rights issues.
The next big topic discussed was police brutality and the lives of African-Americans. When someone addressed the controversy of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit rather than stand during the national anthem at an NFL football game, the discussion turned to the increasing number of citizens that have been victims of police violence. However, this talk became a heated debate when Patrick Pugliese ’18 voiced his less than popular opinion on the state of minorities in the country. One can say that the numerous students who disagreed with his stance targeted him and questioned what he had said. Patrick, however, said that, “At no point did I feel my point of view was ignored nor did I feel disrespected.” And much like many of the other students in the room he believed that they “got to express themselves in ways that may not have been presented otherwise”.
Although the salon was successful in the sense that many different issues concerning the country were addressed, one thing it did not do was highlight the opinions of the presidential candidates themselves. While Mr. LaForest did attempt to veer the conversation toward specific claims that both Clinton, Trump or other candidates have expressed during their campaigns, students continued to talk about their own opinions on the matter. While this is not a bad thing, calling the talk a “presidential salon” would be far from an accurate representation of the meeting.