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Vote 2016 forum tackles gender and race issues

Professors and students join in the political conversation.

Michael Garcia, Staff Writer

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About 100 people packed the Anatol Center Wednesday night, with attendants standing in the back of the room and sitting on the floor to join the Vote 2016 forum on race, gender and the presidential election.

This forum, the third in the Vote 2016 panel series, featured anthropology graduate student Alex Bellenger, human development professor Kim Kelly, art professor Rebecca Sittler, communications professor Lucretia Wright and women’s, gender and sexuality studies professor Shira Tarrant as panelists.

Moderated by interim Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Daniel O’Connor, the panel began with questions from audience members.

The issues discussed ranged from implicit and systematic bias in policing against African Americans to the conduct and professionalism that should be expected from presidential candidates.

Wright said that the issue of race was not even discussed during Sunday night’s presidential debate, despite the racial issues that have been intensifying in response to police brutality exhibited against people of color — in particular, African Americans.

According to the article “Fatal Force” published by the Washington Post, 754 people in the United States have been killed by police officers this year. In California alone there have been 107 deaths, 16 of which were African American.

Another issue discussed was how presidential candidates should behave in public and what kind of image they have.

This panel comes just days after a leaked tape revealed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump making lewd comments about women and casually talking about sexual assault.

The tape, which was recorded in 2005 during an episode of “Access Hollywood” with host Billy Bush, features Trump talking about how he would grope and kiss women without their consent.

Creative writing and journalism major Eduardo Lavin said he enjoyed the panel and the discussion on race.

“It was very intense. They addressed some good questions and were well versed in the topics discussed,” he said. “The most prevalent topic tonight was on gender, given how this is the first time we have a female as the presidential candidate of a major party.”

English major Jaime Fernandez said he found the panel informative and that it is important for students to come out and voice their opinions on these issues.

“The whole panel was centered around taking questions from the audience and was student driven,” he said. “The panelists and the whole structure wasn’t just on saying what they wanted to say, but bringing up issues that other people are thinking.”

He said it is important to have the student body informed about this election so they can make informed decisions when it comes time to vote in November.

“There’s this worry that if Trump is elected president, that may empower people to feel more overtly racist or prejudiced,” Fernandez said.

The next forum will be held Oct. 26 and the topic will be social media and campaigns. It will be held at the Anatol Conference Center located in the Academic Services from 5 – 6:30 p.m.

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