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Silence Over Trump Impeachment Proceedings

GRCC Professor of American History Mike Light

Trump’s investigation is on every major news network and all over Twitter and Facebook. Yet, it seems that though everyone has an opinion on the subject on social media, few are literally talking about it. 

Two out of seven Grand Rapids Community College professors contacted were willing to comment to our staff. 

“I find that in my personal connections with people that they find it really hard to talk about politics coming at it from two different sides,” said GRCC Professor Mike Light. “They’d rather avoid it, but then they have no problem going onto some sort of social media and venting some of those frustrations.”

Multiple political science professors at Michigan State University declined to speak about the impeachment although the school’s spokesperson, Merri Jo Bales, confirmed they have the freedom of speech and academic expression. 

Grand Valley State University also didn’t have any professors able to speak with our staff. When both human resources and communications for the college were contacted about this, Nate Hoekstra wrote an email to a Collegiate reporter stating:   “… our faculty have been reluctant to speak about the impeachment, as it’s a sensitive subject.”

However, Light expressed concern that limited political conversations on campus will drive those conversations onto other platforms, like social media “which really isn’t as productive as it would be if they were in… a direct conversation with somebody,” he said. “These proceedings tend to be very partisan… whether it is voting on the matter of issuing articles or voting on whether or not to remove someone from office.” 

The United States has had periods of extreme opposites and mild compromises. After there were riots and protests about Trump’s election, many thought that we had reached a time of extreme polarization. 

Yet, some public institutions are being more careful not to share opposing opinions, specifically with recent impeachment proceedings. 

“I find that to be fascinating that people want to avoid political conflict in their public discourse,”  Light said. “So where are we now? Are we a country that has a high level of partisanship, or are we only comfortable saying those things behind the keys of a message board?”