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UB Law School holds presidential election forum

Faculty discuss implications of election

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Jim Gardner has “a lot of worries” and “no answers” when it comes to the presidential election. He feels this election raises concerns about the nation’s future.

UB Law School faculty discussed the 2016 presidential election at a community forum on Nov. 28 in O’Brian Hall. The 90-minute forum was open to the entire university community. Roughly 75 students and faculty attended.

“We’re here today to reflect as a community,” Gardner, interim dean of UB law school and SUNY Distinguished Professor said. “We’re here because of the words, the behavior, the evidence of character revealed during the campaign by the individual who will be our next president… If Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders or Marco Rubio had won we wouldn’t be here today.”

Gardner said there has been “profound democratic immaturity” that led to Donald Trump being elected.

He feels Trump used “highly inflammatory language” and found Trump to be racist and sexist during his campaign.

He said Trump never spent a single day in public office or service, has no track record as an office holder, has no fixed opinions and has made unprecedented attempts to jail his political opponents.

“I intend to wait and see [what Trump does for our country], but not for very long,” Gardner said.

Trump’s campaign involved civil rights issues regarding the First Amendment, immigration, discrimination against Muslims, national security and abortion, said Jonathan Manes, clinical professor of law and director of the Civil Liberties Clinic.

Manes said Trump advocated for “torture” and targeting family members and figures so that law enforcement will cooperate with him.

“It’s very unclear what’s actually going to happen [with Trump as our president],” Manes said. “It’s important for all of us as citizens to be active [in politics].”

Manes feels citizens have the right to challenge what the president says to make sure it is fair, legal and wise for the country. Citizens also need to “respect and allow” views one may not agree with, he said.

“It’s great that Donald Trump was elected but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he represents my own views,” Manes said.

Law professor Rick Su, said individuals have a “substantial avenue for action” through local governments to express concerns and make change.

“[Local governments are] the heart of what we imagine our democracy to be,” Su said.

Monica Wallace, law professor and New York State Assembly member-elect believes people cannot sit around and let other people express our views for them.

“I was unhappy with the representative that we had in my community,” Wallace said. “I wanted to make a change. I wanted to make a difference.”

Ezra Zubrow, professor of anthropology, expressed his concerns about Trump’s ideas to privatize education. Zubrow wants to know how one should defend themself, their salary, their health benefits and how to act in this situation.

Gardner said Trump seems to be backing away from some things he said during his campaign.

“It’s not clear that Trump’s statements and promises were taken seriously by his supporters or even Trump himself,” Gardner said.

Community members also expressed their concerns about the Electoral College and thought citizens need a better representation in the election.

“[The electoral college] is still imperfect,” Gardner said, but he will give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

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