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Public Affairs News

Dr. Federici gives speech on foreign policy

On Wednesday, March 23, The Public Affairs Society (with the combined effort of Dr. Garrison) organized yet another outstanding event that provided an interesting insight on a popular topic of discussion – foreign policy. The event featured an introduction by the Public Affairs Society, and transitioned to a philosophical analysis on foreign policy by Dr. Michael Federici himself, then followed up by a question and answer portion. federici 2

Federici opened up his speech by comparing realists and idealists. He suggested that the divide between these two is one of the greatest divides we see in the American world of politics. Federici mentioned that idealists often bend on the hope of accomplishing what may seem to be impossible tasks, while realists tend to look at a situation and look at things realistically, no matter how harsh they may be. Also strongly embedded within his speech was references to Alexander Hamilton and his outlook on foreign policy. To further strengthen his speech, he used specific examples within our history to explain why idealist choices may have been the reason behind our current mess with foreign policy, and the evolution of terrorist organizations.

Federici’s strongest point was his examination of the Iraq War. To point out the divide between realism and idealism, he reflected on the idealist decision President Bush made to enter warfare in Iraq. He quoted a series of Bush’s statements during the war to point out that the objective of entering the Middle East was to encourage democracy within the Middle East. This reason for going to war is what Federici feels “got us in this mess in the first place.” He furthered his argument by stating that a goal to create democracies all around the world is an impossible task. Thus, concluding the discussion by saying that this idealist decision is what created a vacuum in the Middle East for terrorist organizations to rise.

Hinging off of this argument, he drew more attention from the audience by suggesting that this vacuum and mistakes like these may be the reason for the Donald Trump phenomenon. He said, “we have never seen this before, but a candidate, Donald Trump, is taking advantage of idealist mistakes and using it to gain support.” Simply, Federici suggested that Trump is taking the aftermath of idealist mistakes elicit support from American voters.

Federici then made his closing remarks, which left the crowd with an interest perspective on what a realist truly is. Not only did he accomplish this, but he also left the audience wondering what our nation would look like today had we made a realist decisions instead of idealist.

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Public Affairs News

Screening + Panel Discussion On Campus

Film 2 On Thursday, March 17, Dr. Pruss (a criminal justice professor within the Department of Public Affairs) organized a film screening and panel discussion as an activity the students and community could attend to not only gain an interesting perspective on the drug war, but to also listen to some prominent figures in our community that deal first hand with this every single day.

The three voices from the community were Judge David Carson, Officer Jessica Wilkerson, and Blue Ridge Behavioral Health worker. Carson is a judge on the Roanoke Valley Drug Court, and is a graduate of Dartmouth College as well as Washington and Lee. Jessica Wilkerson is an officer with the Roanoke City Police Department. He works heavily on drug work related cases, and is certified to teach at the police academy. Earl Edwards, who is a native of the Roanoke Valley, has worked with Blue Ridge Behavioral Health Care for thirty years. With all of them being well educated on the drug war and having first hand experience, they answered a variety of questions from the student and community field audience. Although, before this post discussion was the film itself that opened everyones’ eyes from the beginning.

The film took a different perspective on the war on drugs, and suggested that it has never been about drugs itself. The beginning arguments suggested that the drug war initiated from racial tension throughout the nation. For instance, they reference the first crackdowns on three drugs: opium, cocaine, and marijuana. In this reference, the film suggests that cracking down on these drugs was a way to criminally isolate  the Chinese (who allegedly were stealing white american work on the west coast), African Americans with cocaine, and Hispanics with marijuana (another instance where hispanics were dominating agricultural jobs whites previously worked). Thus, the beginning part of the film certainly suggested that there has been a racial tie with the drug war throughout history. Other references throughout the film gave light on the fact that many people involved with drugs come from situations of extreme economic distress, and they view it as a way to support themselves. Furthermore, a third of the film focused on the crackdowns our government has made on drugs, and made the audience question whether or not they are too harsh.

The powerful message that the film portrayed caught the interest of the panel discussion leaders. Although they mutually agreed that some of the references in the film may have been a little extreme, it was fair to say that they felt they were very important topic discussions. They proceeded to give their personal takes on the issue, and how their experiences from their profession may alter their point of view. For instance, officer Wilkerson openly stated that she knows that her point of view is going to be automatically different from Carsons’ and Edwards’.film 1 Wilkerson said “our job is to enforce the law, plain and simple. It is my job to constantly remember what the law is, no matter what it may be, and enforce it”. Edward mentioned that he liked the fact that film pointed out injustices throughout the history of the drug war, but he wished they would have shed more light on treatment. To further, he stated “throughout the entire film, I only hard the word treatment twice. It is hard for to fully engage on the makeup of the film because the treatment process is my profession and I think it is very important”. Lastly, Judge Carson talked about his great appreciation for the Roanoke Valley having a Drug Court, and wanted the audience to be appreciative of it as well. He mentioned the reason having a Drug Court is so great is because it gives him some freedom to make his own decisions about sentencing for crimes. Carso
n said he loves the ability to follow oversee somebody, view all angles of the spectrum, and then arrive at a sentence rather than just issuing a sentence off a federal mandate for that crime.
The event was rounded up be a series of question and answers from the audience, and many students and community members even stayed after to ask the panel members individual questions and thank them for their attendance.

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Rubio Rally receives student contributions

With the Virginia Primary Election coming up on March 1st, Florida Senator and Republican presidential nominee Marco Rubio made his way around the state of Virginia on Sunday, rally to rally. Luckily for the city of Salem, his last stop of the day was right here at Roanoke College. There wasn’t a seat open in Homer T. Bast Gymnasium, which probably contributed to the insane heat in the gym. On the bright side, Rubio promised (before a hysteric laugh by the crowd) on his first day in office to issue a federal grant for air conditioning in the gym.

Senator Rubio started off his Rally with some comical remarks about businessman and current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, and eventually made his way around to his plans to lead this country to a new America century. Whether it was a comment about Trump, a notion to take care of veterans, or a comment about the vigorous heat in the gym, it was quite clear that the crowd was nothing but excited to have the senator in town. Keeping in mind, this was a crowd vastly populated by college students, most of them being students here at Roanoke. Some students in fact were more into the Republican nominee than the general crowd however.

Backed by willing volunteers and students interested in politics, the Students For Rubio Chapter at Roanoke College was granted access to help out directly with Rubio’s campaign staff, as well as the security on hand for the event. The students were responsible for registering every person that walked through the doors, and all it took was an app on your smartphone.

Rubio’s Campaign staff uses an app called EventBrite to track the number of people that enters the rallies, giving them a sense of attendance from event to event. In addition to counting the number of those in attendance, the app allows the campaign staff to have contact information for those that register. If you were wondering what the benefits to a campaign are for selling free tickets, this marketing strategy is the answer. Through this app alone, Rubio’s campaign staff receives contact information from everyone entering the rally, allowing them to further contact them after the event in attempts to get their vote on March 1st. But it wasn’t Rubio’s campaign staff doing this all night long, in fact it was students here at Roanoke apart of the Students For Rubio Chapter, and they were fired up about it.

Rubio Image 3

A member of the Students For Rubio Alex Boone (Sophomore Political Science Major) commented on the opportunity by saying, “It was a great opportunity to work hands on with the rally and I’m glad so many other Roanoke students got to se what it takes to host a massive rally like we had in Bast. It meant a lot to me that Marco came to Roanoke to share his message and I’m excited about how many other students, faculty, and staff got to hear his unifying, optimistic, and conservative message.” It was pretty evident that all of the Students For Rubio had this same genuine passion that Boone expressed, and were grateful of the opportunity.

Rubio Image 2

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IR Student Studies Abroad and More

Emily Crane is a junior here at Roanoke College and is majoring in international relations. Although she is a student here at Roanoke, it is fair to say that some of her best educational experiences throughout her academic career have occurred off-campus, even around the world. Taking advantage of the opportunities our public affairs department offers and also taking some self initiative on her own over the summer, Crane has built up a resume that will propel her in her future endeavors when she leaves Roanoke College.

Crane first spoke with me about her summer internship at Virginia Tech, where she interned at the Office of International Research, Education, and Development. During her internship, she worked specifically with the Women and Gender program. Connecting the relevance this internship has with her major, the OIRED works in international development research and has projects worldwide with a portfolio of $134 million, most of which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Reflecting on her experience, Crane said that “As an intern I was right in the middle of an office with incredible international experience, with some who had worked in the development field for 30 plus years. Some were returned Peace Corps volunteers or had worked in emergency relief organizations, and I was able to get a lot of advice about working in the field in the future.” With her experience with the OIRED, she has really opened up to the idea of working with international development in the future. As we know, all summers come to an end and it was time for school to start back up; however, Crane would be spending her fall studying abroad in Meknes, Morocco.

Emily Crane

State_Emily Crane

Being an international relations major certainly points students towards considering studying abroad experiences, but Crane’s minor in French and a year in a pilot Arabic class is what opened her up to considering destinations like Morocco. Regarding her coursework at Roanoke, Crane said that her “Modern Middle East” class taught her a lot about the region historically and politically, which sparked her interest in spending a semester in the area. Reminiscing on her time spent, Crane said that, “During the semester I got to travel all around the country to Rabat, Casablanca, Tangier, Fes, Chefchaouen and Asilah. The highlight of the semester was when the program took a trip down to Merzouga to spend the last weekend in the Sahara desert iding camels and camping out nomad-style in the dunes. It was a really incredible experience!” One of the most interesting aspects about studying abroad is that you have the opportunity to stay with a host family, and experience cultural life of another nation through household daily life. Staying with a host family is what gave Crane the window to Moroccan daily life as well as opportunities to meet people that she wouldn’t have been able to without the experience. Practicing different languages was very difficult, but Emily came out with skills she can share with peers when she returns to classes here on campus. Crane recommends the experience of studying abroad to even student at Roanoke College, considering she felt pretty confident about saying it was one of the best decisions she ever made.

Crane is rounding out her academic year this spring semester in Washintong D.C, partaking in the Lutheran College Washington Semester. Currently in D.C, she is working as a Program Analyst in the Office of Emergencies in the State Department. Crane’s office handles the K fund, which coordinates donations to States as well as domestic representation, evacuations, rewards, and other emergencies in the diplomatic and consular service. Crane said that the State Department is “a perfect place to explore a possible future in diplomacy and I have already talked to a lot of Foreign Service Officers about their experiences.” Crane closed off her remarks about the Lutheran College Washington Semester by saying that anyone with a public affairs major can get an internship that they are interested in because there is a variety of diversity in Washington D.C, the heart of the political world.

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D.C Experience Great For Walter

The Lutheran College Washington Program is an opportunity for students here at Roanoke College to enter the sphere of the political world in a fully active way, and this opportunity was something Reed Walter felt she couldn’t pass up on at this critical time in her life.

Reed Interview 2

Reed Walter is a junior here at Roanoke, and is as involved in as much as a student can be. Academically, she is a political science and communications double major. Pairing two majors together, she added that she believes communications is vital for any job she takes on in the future. Political Science seems like the obvious choice for any aspirations to work in D.C, but regarding Communications Walter said, “we are the generation that has lost the art of communicating due to the advancements of social media, and I don’t want to feed into that distant figment, I’d rather be someone who can help that skill survive.” Aside from academics, she is a member of the Roanoke Maroons Women’s Lacrosse team, is a building ops manager in the Colket Center, and also just took on her most recent task as SGA Vice President. From the surface it appears she has no time on her hands, but this is exactly how she wants her college experience to be. Walter said, “I felt like I wasn’t making the best of my college experience, and I was feeding into settling for average. I knew that needed to change and I’m so glad my mindset changed.” This mindset is ultimately what led her to pursuing a semester abroad in the heart of the political world – Washington, D.C.

After an interview process, Walter was awarded an internship with a defense contractor for the Foreign Military Sales Department. Having such a busy schedule at Roanoke certainly prepared her for this “real world” experience. Her workday began at 7:30 a.m. and, if she was lucky, it ended around 6 p.m. Some days consisted of organizing files into binders for her boss, and other days she was busy selling nuclear weaponry to foreign countries. Walter said, “So, I sold nuclear torpedoes to foreign nationals. Pretty cool, I know.” Just like any workforce, there are days that are as interesting as that, and there are dull days like assorting files into binders. Despite that, Reed always had a smile on her face at work and that didn’t go unnoticed by her fellow colleagues. Because of this brightened personality around work everyday, Walter was awarded the Dean Spirit Award because of her diplomatic tendencies.

Out of the eight interns in the department, they made sure to declare Walter as their top intern. Having been so impressed with her work and the impact she had on the people around her, the department invited her to return in the summer to work again. It is safe to assume that this is just the first of many experiences to come for Reed in the D.C area. Not to mention, it is also self evident Walter is on a path to becoming the person she set out to be, if she hasn’t solidified that already. Reed Walter strongly encourages all students across the Public Affairs majors to take full advantage of the semester offered in D.C. Whether you are majoring in International Relations, Criminal Justice, or Political Science, they all share a similar essence in their roots. All three of these majors aim to make the world a better place, which is why we pursue these career paths in the first place, right?              Reed Interview 1