October 03, 2012
Health insurance for working Americans, immigration and the value
of the Electoral College — St. John’s students and faculty wrangled
over these and other issues in a series of public debates in honor
Held on September 17 at the Queens and Staten Island campuses,
Constitution Day was part of the PARTICIPATE program, an annual,
University-wide initiative to promote and increase civic awareness,
engagement and participation in the political process.
Under the direction of Brian Browne, Assistant Vice President for
Government Relations, students from the
College Democrats and
College Republicans clubs squared off on the Queens campus over
the constitutionality of immigration reforms, marriage equality and
Care Act. The debates took place in the D’Angelo Center
and Bent Hall.
On the Staten Island campus, students discussed the history of the
Electoral College, the selection of electors and the allocation of
William Byrne, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Government and
Ellen Boegel, J.D., Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and
Legal Studies, debated the system’s relevance today.
View the Photo Gallery from the SI Debate
St. John’s School of Law continued the discussion on September 27.
In Belson Hall’s Moot
Court on the Queens campus, the
Center for Law and Religion held “Religious Liberty in the 2012
Election: A Constitution Day Debate.” The program featured Andrew
M. Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law at Northwestern
University’s School of Law, and Michael Paulsen, Distinguished
University Chair and Professor of Law at the University of St.
Thomas School of Law. They debated the contraception mandate in the
Affordable Care Act and the so-called “ministerial
Students said the discussions helped them to better understand the
issues in this year’s election. “It’s crucial to hear from our
peers on all sides of the aisle, not only so we can become better
informed [citizens], but also so we can make educated decisions
about our future,” said Erin Kennedy ’09C, President of the College
Greg Mitchell ’10C, President of the College Republicans, agreed.
“Young voters should be involved in the process that
will affect their future,” he said. “Having a Constitution Day
debate was a great way to help college students become
more aware and formulate their own opinion on the issues.”
For Joseph Anzalone ’12C, the debates changed his perspective on
the Electoral College. “Originally, I was against it,” said the
Government and Politics major. “But after hearing Dr. Byrne speak
about the benefits it provides, I was enlightened. It’s difficult
to think of a better alternative.”