By Clare Kolenda
Grand Rapids Community College celebrated Constitution Day Sept. 17 by commemorating the signing of the constitution in 1787. To celebrate America’s iconic day, the college hosted a panel of professors from the political science department to discuss current events as well as several different aspects of the constitution.
Topics at the panel this year included: the United States conflict with Syria, the Voting Rights Act and the Defense of Marriage Act, which were both changed this last June. Those who were on the panel were Yan Bai, Heather Richards, Gordon Vurusic, and Keith St. Clair.
Professor Vurusic spoke on the history of America’s major political parties, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, and how they were founded.
“Uniquely in American politics in recent years,” Professor St. Clair remarked, as he summarized United States conflict with Syria, “Instead of a Democrat or Republican argument, you’ve seen Democrat fighting Democrat and Republican fighting Republican over whether military intervention is a good idea.” This discussion brought into question President Obama’s decision to possibly enter war with Syria without Congressional approval.
“It is good to have a dialogue with the students,” said Yan Bai, a professor of Asian Politics and American Government at GRCC since 1994. He also said that he was encouraged by the increase of the number of attendees in comparison to last year’s panel.
The panel event lasted 90 minutes, with each professor talking about a current event and how it relates to the Constitution, and then fielding questions and comments from students in attendance.
Several political science students attended the event and members of the Student Leadership Advisory Council were there to register students to vote.
GRCC Vice Chair of the Board of Trustee Richard W. Verburg also attended. He said that as a board member he is encouraged to attend as many events as he can.
After the event, Verburg said, “It’s important for students to know the constitution and be able to ask some questions about it.”