Members of the Saint Michael's community listen to a panel discussion put on by the SMC Conservative Club.
The SMC Conservative Club is a new club on campus that was formed in order to voice the opinions of conservative students at Saint Michael's College. About twenty St. Mike’s members of the community, including students, faculty and staff of all political backgrounds, gathered on Wednesday evening in the Dion Student Center to listen to and have a discussion with a panel of their conservative fellow classmates on issues that face our country today.
The three St. Mike’s student panelists were Alec Medine, Ralph Colantino, and Ryan Wurmsdobler. Professor Robert Letovsky was present as the moderator and opened the discussion by posing four questions for the panelists to speak on. These questions probed at national issues that concern college students today.
The first question the panel addressed concerned economic prospects for college students and graduates --in other words, how likely is it that college students will find a job in their field after graduation? The panel began by stating that, according to U.S News and World Report
, Saint Michael's students have ranked among the top 100 colleges nationally, especially in the fields of business and biology/chemistry. This means that students graduating from Saint Michael's are finding jobs post-graduation. Job placement after graduation is still an issue that affects college students nationally; the panelists offered some possible solutions to create jobs for college graduates. They stated that deregulation of business would create freer markets and allow companies to hire more college graduates. They also expressed a need for the U.S government to invest more in small businesses and micro businesses in the form of grants and tax breaks. This would then allow for small businesses, which make up a majority of the economy, to hire more college graduates.
The second question was, what we should do about what they called the mess of entitlement programs such as social security and health care? The panel addressed the propostion that healthcare is essential for Americans, advancing the case that healthcare coverage is essential for some Americans, but not all. One of the panelists went so far as to say that Republicans owe an apology to the country for not repealing Obamacare after eight years of campaigning for that specific course of action. They also voiced their concerns with Bernie Sanders’ health care plan, claiming that the U.S government will be $13 trillion short and it will bankrupt the national budget. As for Social Security, they claim that the sad truth is the generation of current college students will pay into social security and probably never see a dollar of social security in return when they become eligible.
The third question Professor Letovsky posed was how likely is it that college students today will be able to achieve the “American Dream”? The panel began by stating that they believed that the so-called American Dream is still attainable for current college students. They claim that it will obviously be harder to achieve than it was for their parents, who are mostly Baby Boomers, but it is possible nonetheless. One of the reasons the American Dream will be harder for our generation to achieve, according to the panel, was the extremely high price of college tuition. As for the solution of free college tuition, they had their reservations. They claim having a free tuition system like many European universities would be difficult because there are many differences between the American and European university systems. In a European university, the government pays for the buildings, the professors to teach classes, the maintenance staff, and essentially covers all the costs for students to simply take classes at the university. They claim that universities, both public and private, offer students many more resources and a much different college experience than the sort of “bare-bones” experience given in European universities. Their point was that universities could not offer the same resources and experiences to their students if all their funding came from the government because there simply would not be enough money.
The fourth topic of discussion was what is America’s place in the world; are we to be a global promoter of democracy and peace or should we indulge in self-interest to benefit our own country? One of the panelists stated that the last time the United States turned their backs on the world, World War II happened. We cannot turn our backs on the world again, but we also should not be so interventionist. They stated that the war in Iraq is a perfect example of the United States being far too interventionist; we should have stayed out of Iraq. We need to find the middle ground between interventionist and isolationist, while possibly leaning closer to isolationism. They stated that the U.S. should seek diplomatic means for peace first, but then, if necessary, use military force.
The discussion was followed by a Q/A, which faculty and fellow students participated in. Both discussions were well-received by both sides and they brought to light the opinions of conservative college students on national issues.