“The coddling of the American mind” has become the battle cry of many a traditionalist. College students these days are demanding increasing emotional indulgence and rejecting true intellectual discourse. Or are they?
One of Bowdoin’s newest chartered student clubs is a reminder that the quibbles of one generation against another are often just that. The new Eisenhower Forum is offering weekly Friday night gatherings for students who are seeking serious debate and dialogue. The group meets over dinner at Moulton Union.
The Forum, chartered in the fall, is a discussion group “whose main goal is to create space where students can discover and debate conservative ideas both in terms of political theory and public policy,” said co-President David Jimenez ’16. However, despite the conservative label, the composition of the group is quite diverse. Jimenez added, “We have a wide range of students who attend: conservatives, libertarians, liberals, progressives, moderates. It’s really not about preaching to the choir or agreeing about everything. We’re creating a space where voices that are not often heard on campus can present themselves.”
Each week, the group chooses a relevant topic for discussion. A few of this year’s themes have included race, immigration, education and poverty.
A recent discussion focused on the legacy of the late Antonin Scalia, although the conversation quickly snowballed to include any and all current events. Students energetically raised comments and asked questions, ranging from practical to philosophical. Does the Senate have a legal obligation to confirm Obama’s nominee? What are the merits of constitutional originalism versus judicial activism? Is the Preamble of the United States Constitution legally binding? What is the optimal mix of freedom and equality?
Not bad for a conversation over chicken tenders.