By Peter Rice
September 19, 2010
On Tuesday, September 14, Dr. Stipleman was the keynote speaker for the History Club’s event entitled Democracy and the Constitution. Jack Edelson, the club’s president, thanked all those who contributed and gave a warm welcome to Dr. Stipleman, a professor at Dowling College.
Upon entering the ballroom, an overwhelming aroma of delicious dishes delighted the noses and stomachs of those in attendance. Spread across a table, there were sandwiches, bottled drinks, pastas, and side dishes that were waiting to be sampled. Refreshed and “refueled,” all were ready to hear what Dr. Stipleman had to say about democracy and the Constitution of the United States. Taking the podium, the professor made a few comments on the recent news of the Florida pastor, Terry Jones, who threatened to burn the Koran on September 11th. Examining the debates over these controversies, Dr. Stipleman wanted to explore the Constitution by determining what the founding fathers had intended by it. How is it that people, with radically different ideas, are universally able to find support from the Constitution?
Tackling this very question, Dr Stipleman explained how there are originalists, who believe that the Constitution needs to be taken at face value, and then others who interpret the Constitution more loosely. Depending on the situation, a person’s position may be a matter of semantics. From the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy to the threats of burning copies of the Koran, supporters of all different kinds of issues, including these, have been able to rely on the United States’ Constitution to back them in their right to protest what they believe is insensitively endangering their freedoms. However, those in opposition, too, can look towards the Constitution, where freedom of religion is a basic right which is to be protected. To create an explanation for these sorts of predicaments, Dr. Stipleman demonstrated how the founding fathers were in disagreement amongst themselves as well. For example, George Washington believed that all religions could be used to instill values into a society and were, thus, useful to governance. On the other hand, although James Madison believed in protecting the rights of religions, he did not think they had a place in the establishment of government. Dr. Stipleman was able to show that, through this sort of banter, the founding fathers, who had a hand in developing the young democracy and Constitution of the United States, were ideologically clashing on minor notes. The result was that a vaguely written constitution was designed to be left open for interpretation. It harkens back an idea that Thomas Jefferson once expressed: “The earth belongs to the living and not to the dead,” so that the laws of the deceased, thus, should be breakable.
From this event, the attendees came away with a greater appreciation for the complexities of the Constitution and our founding fathers. Dr. Stipleman did a magnificent job in highlighting that the greatest strength of our little old Constitution resides within its malleability. Despite what position you may take on the current religious controversies, or any other controversies which should arise, we must all marvel at the ingenious system that allows us to openly debate each other while keeping us united.
by Melissa Theodorakatos
September 17, 2010
The Dowling College GSA started off the school year right with their first college wide event. On September 2nd, the GSA hosted an information session which discussed the meaning of the phrase “LGBT.” Members of the club, as well as a variety of students strolling around the Oakdale campus joined Co-Presidents Joanna and Melissa in a group circle format to enjoy some cold water and kick-off the event.
The event’s guest speaker, Wes, is a LIGALY member; he led the group discussion providing his own insight and knowledge on the topic. Wes began by asking each attendee to introduce themselves in order to make everyone feel comfortable. He continued by encouraging students to talk about the stereotypes attached to the LGBT community in order to explain how negative they are in today’s society. He defined every letter in the acronym “LGBT” in order to help students clearly identify themselves or understand others. He emphasized the importance of equality on campus and encouraged students to take with them the acquired information in order to help make every student feel welcome within the Dowling community. The term “ally” was discussed; the importance of being an ally for the LGBT community within the Dowling College community was also emphasized. He ended with an open discussion, allowing students to express their feelings on the state of LGBT equality at Dowling and within our society, as well as share personal experiences to emphasize the message of the discussion.
Students were given pamphlets and calendars from the LIGALY center being offered the opportunity to become further involved and find more sources of support. Ultimately, the discussion was another GSA success, making attendees look forward to more great events from the club in the future.