University News

Ready or Not: Panel Discussion Questions Who Will Be the Next President

February 05, 2015
Author: Brittany Cecil
Category: Special Events

Are American’s ready for a woman president? How about an atheist president? These questions have been asked amongst our society for the last 50 years, and we have seen strides with the first Catholic and black president, so who will be next?

In a debate between a variety of professors, the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics hosted Why America Is Not Ready for a Mormon, Hispanic, Muslim, LGBTQ, Atheist, Jewish or Female President at Southern Utah University.

Nearly four decades after breaking the mold and America receiving it’s first Catholic president with John F. Kennedy, one panelist member defended that a woman president is not just probable but imminent.  

Georgia Beth Thompson, SUU’s Center for Women director and representing the LGBTQ and women audiences, explained “We may vote in our first woman president, but we still desire that that woman have very man favored characteristics, for example, backgrounds in military, economics, politics. We are getting closer to a breakthrough, we just need to be brave enough to do it.”   

Though the overwhelming feeling throughout the packed room was that a woman president was the most popular choice, all continued to agree that atheism was the one demographic that Americans were the furthest from accepting.

Representing atheism was Amber McConnell, assistant professor of chemistry, she explained that people are too connected to how one gains their morals and “if the candidate doesn’t have a religious background then they believe they don’t have any morals.”

McConnell went on to state that she hopes those preconceived notions change, stating, “Everyone needs to go outside of what they know and listen to other beliefs. At times it reconfirms what you already believe and other times it might provide an opportunity for someone to think, ‘I’ve never thought of it that way’ and then the world is opened up, they are enlightened. It’s creates a new perspective.” 

On the topic of religion, Kholoud Al-Qubbaj defended her beliefs as a Muslim and explained that though American’s have a separation of church and state, citizens and policy makers allow religion to infiltrate their opinions. She went on to say that the populace should be more concerned about who will reduce taxes and boost the economy, not what god they’re praying to.

Al-qubbaj went on to say, “You students are now the policy makers and can make a change so don’t base your vote on one aspect of the person. America has separation between state and church, regardless of whether you believe in a god or not should not be the focus of choosing a president.”

Continuing that thought, Jonathan Puente, director of the SUU Hispanic Center, encouraged students engage in the voting process. “The college age demographic is ironically the lowest age group when it comes to voting turn out and yet the most effect by who is chosen for president.”

As the night waned on and topics were debated, each panelist agreed U.S. citizens have many more milestones to reach before all barriers are broken down and the country receives it’s first Jewish, Hispanic or LGBTQ president, but, like stated before, that’s up to you.



Contact Information:
Jennifer Burt
435-586-1997
burt@suu.edu