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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Wofford’s feeling the Bern

Various participants in the roundtable discussion gathered together following the event to sport their Bernie gear.
Various participants in the roundtable discussion gathered together following the event to sport their Bernie gear.

By: Kelsey Aylor, Staff Writer

Over Interim, Wofford hosted another event geared toward the 2016 presidential campaign and election, but this time around, the event featured a new face and a new party.

On Jan. 28, a roundtable discussion was held in support of Bernie Sanders, a democratic candidate. Previously, Wofford has hosted campaign visits from both Donald Trump and Ben Carson, two major republican candidates.

The event featured four speakers who work with Sanders’s campaign and was open to Wofford faculty, students and members of the Spartanburg community. Sophomore Lydia Miller attended the discussion as the co-chair of the social media committee of the Bernie campaign on Wofford’s campus.

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“I really appreciated having this discussion because thus far we’ve had events featuring Republican candidates,” says Miller. “No matter your political affiliation, I think it is important to host and attend events featuring a wide array of candidates so that you can have the opportunity to learn and see different perspectives.”

Lindsay Teisl, a freshman, also attended the event and thinks that the discussion style provided people a platform to voice their own opinions or concerns and to become more engaged and involved with the political process.

“My father is Republican and my mother is a Democrat, so I decided that when I was old enough to vote, I wouldn’t make a decision based on my parents’ ideas because I wanted to be educated politically for myself,” says Teisl. “By attending the various events on campus, I get to hear first-hand from candidates, like Trump and Carson, their views on certain topics and decide where I personally stand.”

One speaker at the event was former Ohio senator, Nina Turner, who left her Ohio Democratic Party post to campaign for Sanders. Both Teisl and Miller found Turner to be one of the most engaging of the speakers.

“Nina Turner was so enthusiastic, emotional, compelling and funny. I could listen to her speak for hours,” says Teisl.

“The most important issues that I factor into my voting are women’s and minority rights, healthcare and climate change. On all of these issues, I have similar views with Sanders, so I personally think his platform is the strongest,” says Miller. “Turner spoke in depth about these issues and shared personal examples and stories which really helped to solidify how I felt about them.”

Although the event hosted interested and supportive Wofford and Spartanburg community members, there has been some backlash on campus. Multiple students have reported that their Bernie stickers have been pulled or scratched off of their cars. Others have felt disinterest or even hostility from their classmates.

“I have seen that both myself and many other Democrats have made an effort to attend the events put on by Republican candidates and to be respectful of them,” says Teisl. “Unfortunately, I have not met any Republicans on campus who have a more open mind and I wish I could see these students make an effort to respect others’ opinions.”

“I would love for an opportunity to see more candidates while they are here for the South Carolina primaries. That way I believe the community can become more informed, hopefully in a more impactful and meaningful way,” says Miller. “It was difficult attending the Trump rally because he often acted unprofessionally, yet people applauded him. For example, he blatantly refused to answer a question about the Syrian refugee crisis which I think is unprofessional of a political candidate to do, especially if it is coming from a curious voter who may be undecided.”

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