Leading up to next week’s presidential election, freshmen mentors, alongside peer advisers, discussed in University Life classes how crucial it was for students to develop civic engagement.
One topic that came up in the classes was how students can become involved in their communities by casting their vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Classes recognized that leaders are not always perfect, said Peer Adviser James Maglione, a sophomore psychology major. In regard to the current election, mentors explained how both Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton have their flaws, while both also possess positive traits.
Maglione said he felt that his group of freshmen took a lot away from the lesson.
“I was extremely happy to see that my students chose to have a discussion instead of a debate,” Maglione said. “This really revealed to me how professional my class was.”
Mentors and peer advisers were tired of discussing the election any further than just pointing out the fact that both of the candidates are human.
“I think that everyone is kind of tired of listening to people’s positions on this election in their classes,” said peer adviser Katherine Kontos, a sophomore social and behavioral sciences major. “Everyone has very strong, emotional opinions on this election. This class format made the election a small discussion and not the entire point of the class.”
After briefly mentioning the election, the lecture shifted to a discussion on how students can make changes within their communities, said Maglione. He added that following that discussion, students were divided into groups where they had to research two historical leaders: one who used his or her power for good, and one who was more sinister.
Some examples of positive leaders were Susan B. Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Examples of more negative individuals included Adolf Hitler, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Fidel Castro. Students were then asked to share what made each person a great leader, or an infamous individual.
Jillian Szczepanski, a freshman occupational therapy major, said she enjoyed the lesson.
“The class was a lot more fun than I expected,” Szczepanski said. “We put a nice spin on the typical political conversation. Everyone was mature and let each other share their opinions without judgment.”
Cara Jordan, a freshman occupational therapy major, felt that the class was significant.
“I feel as though people our age are inclined to be disinterested about what is going on around us, especially with all the distractions that surround us,” Jordan said. “It is important for students to become involved in our community.”
The lesson was also an attempt at encouraging students to go out and cast their vote.
“We see far too often the privilege that is our democracy being squandered away as a result of voter apathy,” Maglione said. “It is important that they [students] vote.”
Freshman Studies Mentor Brittany White also made sure to emphasize the significance students have in this election.
“Students need to understand that they have the power to choose who our next president will be come Nov. 8,” White said.
Megan O’Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.