Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Guest Blog: Kelya Marte (2016, Political Science)

Keyla Marte receiving the Chair Person’s Award at the 2016 Award Ceremony 

Up until this point…

When I first applied to the 2016 New York State Assembly Internship, I was unsure if I would really receive the chance to participate in such a prestigious program. Previously, I struggled throughout my academic career and I was not always the top scorer in my class. With this being said, I was hesitant to apply and worried that I would not be able to get into such a competitive internship.

But regardless of my doubts, I decided to take a risk and apply. Within two short weeks of sending my application, I received my acceptance letter in the mail and was ecstatic that I had been selected to participate. This news came as a shock to not only to me, but also to the campus community as I would be the first Daemen student ever to attend this program. With less than two months left of the fall semester, I had to make a decision on whether or not I would move to Albany to embark on an opportunity that was truly once in a lifetime.

I arrived in Albany, January 3rd 2016, and prepared for my first day of orientation. The infrastructure of the tan castle-like building known as the Empire State Plaza was breathtaking. The splendid elevated staircase and the historic Philip Henry Sheridan statue that stands in front of the staircase made me feel as if I was a part of our great national history in real time.

I quickly learned about the brief history of the Empire State Plaza, which was built under Governor Rockefeller, and many of the buildings that were designed by founding architects. The historic aspect of our nation’s capital architecture speaks volume on the importance of this institution. As I entered the Legislative Office Building, I noticed the marble halls and it suddenly hit me that this would be my home for the next four months. 
The New York State Legislature and the Empire State Plaza
From the moment I stepped in the Legislative Office Building in the Capitol of New York, I did not know exactly the journey that lay before me but I was determined and willing to learn all that I can.

Attending and completing the New York State Assembly internship is one of my greatest achievements. This institution has allowed me to challenge myself and really understand the importance of applying skills outside of the classroom and implementing them in the real world. I was granted the opportunity to develop personal and professional skills. The internship at the Assembly has been an enriching and surreal experience. During my time at the Assembly, I was able to review and conduct research on topics in regards to laws of New York State. These topics include areas such as childcare, education, women’s rights, prison systems and much more.    

Kelya and Assemblymember Jaffee (D-97th District)
It has been such a profound honor to serve Assemblymember Ellen C. Jaffee, who represents District 97, Rockland County, located 30 miles from New York City. Her tenacity and commitment to the work of her community has been enlightening. Mrs. Jaffee is a pioneer in the legislature who is committed to ensuring everyone has fair access to their rights. She is a wonderful role model and mentor and I am so grateful I was able to experience the program under her leadership.  

A Day in the Legislature
My first few days in the office were right at the beginning of  what is known as “budget season” This is the time period in which the Assembly, the Senate and the Governor have to all come together to decide where funds will be allocated to each year. During this time, advocates representing various government-funded issues come to Albany requesting an increase in aid for various programs. I was able to meet with constituents from District 97 as well as many other districts to discuss legislation and hear them voice their concerns about what was important for their community. The diversity of topic areas has expanded my knowledge in all areas and has encouraged me to remain updated on issues affecting citizens. 

Keyla Marte as Ellen C. Jaffee during Mock Session 2016: explaining her vote in the affirmative on raising the age.
The spontaneity of the Legislature will consistently keep you on your toes. There is so much to learn about New York State policy. Contrary to popular belief, your major or choice of interest should not limit your ability to participate in this program. Although, I have a Political Science background I was able to learn about issues affecting the health field, sustainability, education, social services and much more. I was able to meet with physicians, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, scientists and more to discuss laws that affect them. In other words, no topic area is off limits when it involves the well-being of individuals. The legislator's duty is to serve the persons who elected them and that includes people from all backgrounds and occupations.

Prior to the internship, I had a negative view of politicians, especially after hearing negative news often shared in the media. Participating in this internship allowed me to change my perception and come in contact with leaders who are passionate, diligent and dedicated to the betterment of society. As elected officials, their duty includes ensuring fairness is being practiced in all topic areas and to contribute to the development of New York State.
The Internship Committee gave us the opportunity to attend issue forums with powerful individuals and share our questions or concerns. In addition, I was able to attend class once a week with Dr. Ledford and receive extensive information on how the legislative body operates.
Furthermore, I was able to witness history as New York State raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and legalized Mixed Martial Arts.  
Keyla and Assemblymember, Charles Barron
New York City Mayor, DeBlasio

Assemblymember, Victor Pichardo

Keyla Marte an d Assemblymember, Maritza Davila at SOMOS weekend in Albany
Intern Class of 2016 with State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli

The Final Stretch  
Throughout this experience, I have been able to push myself beyond my limits and fully understand the context of chasing after what you want. Although I was hesitant to apply in the beginning, I remained enthusiastic and determined to make the most of this experience and as a result, came out soaring.

On May 11, 2016, I was awarded the Chairperson Award for the New York State Assembly Intern Class of 2016. This award is the highest award to receive and demonstrates that I displayed active political engagement, leadership skills, academic success and an overall outstanding performance during my duration of the program. This award was given to me by the Intern Committee's first African American NYS Speaker, Carl Heastie, and the Chair of the Higher Education committee, Debra Glick.

Professor in Residence Dr. Angela Ledford

Dr. Maniscalo and Dr. Nyshima presenting award to Keyla Marte

Dr. Nishiyama, Vickie Presti, Keyla Marte, Dr. Ledford and Dr. Maniscalco
It is such a profound honor to receive this recognition and confirmed to me that embarking on this experience was indeed the right decision.  

Legislative Director Christina Philo, (left of Keyla)
and Assemblymember Ellen C. Jaffee (right) with the new interns.
I would like to thank my Assemblymember Ellen C. Jaffee (seen on right in photo immediately above) and her Legislative Director, Christina Philo (on left)  for their commitment to my professional and academic development. They were so instrumental to every part of making this experience memorable.

All the staff in the office both in Albany and in the District are committed to realizing Assemblymember Jaffee's vision for a better New York. Her passion and rigorous commitment to improving the condition for all is a powerful reminder to keep fighting.

Now more than ever, as I prepare to walk the stage at Daemen College's 65th annual Commencement ceremony and enter the real world, I feel more confident and equipped with the academic and professional skills to ultimately fulfill my dream of becoming the Secretary of Education.

Overall, this has been by far one of the best experiences in my undergraduate career. Every professor and staff member in the internship program was available at all times and ensured that all of the interns had the necessary skills and background knowledge needed to be successful during our internship duties.  

This entire experience would have not been possible without the Career Services Office and History & Political Science Department at Daemen College. I cannot express my gratitude to each and every one of you for supporting me and ensuring that my transition to Albany was as smooth as possible.
I hope that my time here in Albany can serve as an inspiration for other students to participate in the program of their choice. Although, doubts and fears may be present, I would encourage you to go for it.  I have been honored to have been asked to extend my internship until the end of June and I look forward to continuing my professional network at the Legislature.
The memories and skills I have gained in Albany will continue to serve me as I move forward to the next part of my journey.  
College Day

New York State Assembly Intern Class of 2016

**Keyla Marte will graduate on May 14th with a degree in Political Science.
Her senior thesis project was entitled,"The Role of Corporations in Public Education: A Case Study on Charter Schools in New York."
Keyla's Faculty Academic Advisor is Dr. Lisa Parshall, Associate Professor of Political Science

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pre Law Student Association (PLSA) Mock Trial

2016 Mock Trial Simulation

On April 20, the Pre Law Student Association (PLSA) hosted its 14th Annual Mock Trial Simulation. Participants are provided with a case packet consisting of witnesses statements, a stipulated fact pattern, and applicable law.  From these raw materials, the teams must develop a strategy and prepare everything from the opening remarks, direct and cross examination of witnesses, to the closing arguments on their own. The teams practice separately, forcing them to anticipate their opposition's case until the day of the actual trial.  For witnesses this is especially challenging -- they are practice their direct questioning with their team's counsel but are not subject to any practice cross-examination until the day of the big event.  The case materials, moreover, are written to give both sides a fair chance at prevailing, with a few curve balls and obstacles thrown in for good measure.  The jurors -- student volunteers from related political science courses -- render a verdict at the conclusion of the event.  

Over 100 students have participated in the event since mock trial's debut at the 2003 Academic Festival as attorneys, witnesses, and jurors.  Many of those students have gone on to law school or careers in related fields and recall moot court as a fun experience that allowed them to practice their oral advocacy and presentation skills.  

This year's case was a criminal matter involving two counts of disorderly conduct and assault with a criminal enhancer for a "hate crime."  The case placed a high school senior on trial for an altercation where the victim was allegedly chosen for her sexual orientation.  The presentation of the case was followed by a "talk-back" session where participants and audience members could discuss the case and jury's verdict. 

What was unusual about this year's event was that it was the first time where the participants were all female -- and the gender of the participants in the role became as much a topic of discussion as did the LGBT issues during the talk back -- whether the gender of the students playing the character roles impacted the jury's perceptions of the legal claims or facts in dispute.  

In the end, the jury returned a split verdict, finding the defendant guilty of disorderly conduct but declining to convict on the assault. The jury failed to find that a hate crime had taken place, determining instead that the altercation was the consequence of adolescent disagreement in which both the victim and alleged perpetrator bore responsibility.  

Presiding over the event was Special Guest Judge, Sarah Rodman, who graduated from Daemen College in 2012 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Pre Law. While at Daemen, Sarah organized a musical show-case event, Raise Your Voice, in order to bring awareness to LGBTQ bullying issues.  Her legal field interests are Intellectual Property law as pertaining to the fashion and design sector, as well as Copyright Law in the Entertainment sector. Her interest in the entertainment sector stems from her extensive musical and theatrical background. With over 16 years of private vocal training, both in Buffalo and NYC, she is trained in classical/opera and Broadway. Sarah is currently interning with the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. She will graduate from the University at Buffalo School of Law in May 2016.

The Prosecution

Representing the state and carrying the burden of proof in this criminal matter were: 

Assistant District Attorney: Jessica Maulucci (2016, Political Science) is a Student Alumni Ambassador. She has minors in Pre-Law Studies, Criminal Justice, Psychology, and General Business. She is interested in becoming a criminal prosecution attorney and will be attending law school in the fall. She has been accepted to Albany Law School, St. John's University, University at Buffalo, and Stetson University.  

Assistant District Attorney: Jasmine Favors (Political Science 2017) has an interest in becoming a criminal prosecutor. She plans on attending law school in either the New York City vicinity or out of sate after Daemen College.

Assistant District Attorney: Annabel Pietrocarlo (2017, Liberal Studies) is pursuing her Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in political science and law. After graduation, she plans to become a certified massage therapist.

Witness (Officer Bugg Winchester): Jenil Bell (Political Science 2017) is interested in going to law school and becoming a lawyer after graduating from Daemen College. 

Witness (Pat Walters): Brooklyn Crockton (Political Science and English ) likes to eat ice cream while watching court room dramas. She is considering law school as one of several options upon graduation.

Witness (Tina O’Reilly): Hannah Gerber (Political Science 2018) is a member of the Pre-Law Association. She is interested in becoming a criminal lawyer and plans to attend law school after graduating from Daemen College. 

The Defense 

Defense Attorney: Imani Evans (Political Science 2018) is involved in Pre-Law association and is highly interested in politics, preforming arts, and communications. Her dream is to host her very own talk show.

Defense Attorney: Sassy Fernandez (Business Administration 2016) is specializing in International Business with a minor in Pre-Law. Her interests are economics, politics, and fashion. Sassy has played tennis for five years including one year on the Daemen Women's Tennis Team. She is currently interning for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in downtown Buffalo. 

Defense Attorney: Taqiyah Gibbons (History and Political Science 2018) is the Vice President of the Black Student Union and a member of both the Pre-law club and the History and Government Club. In the future she is planning on becoming both a Historian and a Lawyer. 

Witness (Vice Principle Faye Zelleger): Fati Haruna (Political Science 2018) is captain of the step team, as well as a member of many different clubs on campus that promote diversity and creativity. She has always had an interest in the court system and attended Moot Court last spring at the academic festival as a juror.

Defendant (Carson White): Shamella Jeffers (History and Political Science 2018, minor in Black Studies) is the Sophomore class president, Historian of Cynergy and Secretary of Club Caribana. She wants to be an A.P. U.S. History teacher after being in the classroom for a few years. She also wants to work for the Department of Education to change the history curriculum.

Witness (Dana Reuter): Kayla Stannard (Physical Therapy BA:2018 DPT:2020) is a sister of Sigma Omega Chi sorority and is in the Honors Program and CRU as well. She participated in Moot Court throughout high school and was in the event at Daemen last year as a juror.
in schools.

Faculty Sponsors of the Event included: Dr. Lisa Parshall, Associate Professor of Political Science & Pre Law Advisor (PLSA Advisor), Dr. Jay Wendland, Assistant Professor of Political Science, and Dr. Heike Peckruhn, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Model UN at Academic Festival: Guest Blogger Brianna Zichettella

Model UN at the 2016 Academic Festival 
As the most powerful body of the United Nations, the Security Council is dedicated to maintaining peace and security on a global level. At this year’s Academic Festival, to help bridge the gap between theory and application, Daemen students participated in the History and Political Science Department’s annual Model United Nations simulation. This year’s resolution focused on the ongoing peace talks to end the 5 year old Syrian Civil War. The simulation was sponsored by Dr. Aakriti Tandon, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Daemen College. Students from PSC 121: International Relations class represented countries including China, France, Germany, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Students from PSC 231: Global Governance class represented relevant non-state actors including NGOs, the Free Syrian Army as well as UN Under Secretary Generals (USGs) and debate moderators.
Under Secretary Generals and Moderators: Nigel Haynes, Christine Kozlowski, Shane Clark, Christina Auguste, Jessica Maulucci and Brianna Zichetella (blog author) 
As Syria enters its fifth year of civil war, all sides in the conflict must consider the benefits of peace negotiations. This protracted conflict has destabilized the region and resulted in displacement and death for the people of Syria. With both sides accused of committing war crimes and the inability of humanitarian aid workers to reach those in need, it is in most parties’ best interests to end the violence and suffering in and around Syria. However, this is an extremely complicated matter, and any effective solution should involve the cooperation of all nations in an effort to promote global peace and stability. Problems of this magnitude are generally addressed at the highest level of diplomacy: the United Nations Security Council.
Delegates from the U.K. and France: Jonathan Miranda, Michael Reilly, Casey Young, Amanda Best, and Andriy Lukomsky
Delegates from Iraq: Kelsey Gibson, Isabella Orgento-Romero, and Luis Ortiz
      To prepare for the simulation, students conducted extensive research on their assigned countries. As representatives, students were expected to give introductory speeches and argue the positions of their states in the debate segment of the simulation. This includes researching the historical and contemporary situation of their country’s stance on the issue and reading relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Due to the nature of the debate, participating students must be able to accurately predict the kinds of responses that representatives of their states would give to debate questions and how their state would rebut other country’s responses.
Moderators: Christina Auguste, Jessica Maulucci and Brianna Zichettella 
Delegates from Germany,  and Turkey: Kyle Munro, Natalie Ennis, Idania Ramirez, Jasmine Favors
During the simulation, students debated several topics including humanitarian relief, the continuing presidency of Bashar Al-Assad, housing refugees, the state’s visions for peace in the event the conflict is resolved, and potential consequences for both sides’ human rights violations. A particularly contentious question asked representatives how they felt about bringing the Kurds to the discussion table: The Islamic State is a threat to all sides in this conflict. Thus far, only the Kurds have had any success in stopping the terrorist group’s progress. Would you consider including the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in this discussion in exchange for help against this threat?
            Responses to this question were extremely varied. One of the potential demands that the Kurds may make in exchange for their help is the official transfer to Kurdish ownership of the land they currently occupy. The area with prominent Kurdish presence – known as Kurdistan – covers areas of Iraq Iran, Turkey, and Syria. In the debate, countries like Turkey that would lose territory were strongly opposed to this option. However, countries farther removed for the area, such as the United States, seemed to believe it would be a fair trade-off for help.
Delegates from Oxfam (NGO): Ramel Haines, Torrence Dyck, Fati Haruna
The Syrian Delegation: Hannah Gerber, Jenil Bell, and Carlos McKnight
        After extensive and occasionally heated debate, the country representatives passed the USG’s proposed resolution with a vote of eight affirmations to three abstentions. The resulting resolution invites Syrian Kurds to future peace talks, excludes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from future peace talks, reaffirms the need for monitoring of human rights violations, and proposed the creation of an Intergovernmental Organization tasked with ensuring the permanence of post-war state building in Syria and wherever war is resolved. The resolution also met the Council’s primary goal of securing safe travel for Non-Governmental Organizations and other humanitarian aid workers within the region.
Delegates from Saudia Arabia: Jossette Allwood and Ebony Fripp
Free Syrian Army: Breanna Coolidge and Gabriela Andrade
     Overall the simulation allowed students from all majors to experience real-world application of political science to current events. It was an interesting and engaging experience, and the participating students look forward to next year’s simulation.
The Russian Delegation: Imani Evans, Paige Casey and Natalie Chiodo
United States: Mathew Molnar, Zahra Nayyeri and Rachel Lewandowski
Representing China: Annabel Pietrocarlo and Shaquille Corrica 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Public History students at the MANY Conference

Emily Kraft (History, '16) and Taqiyah Gibbons (History, '18) pose with Don Wildman,
host of the Travel Channel show, "Mysteries at the Museum." Wildman was
the keynote speaker at the conference. 

On April 17-19, Daemen students Emily Kraft and Taqiyah Gibbons attended the annual conference of the Museum Association of New York (MANY), held at Lake Placid. Both Emily and Taqiyah are History majors and Public History minors who learned about MANY while taking Introduction to Public History last semester with Professor Lenora Henson, who is also Curator and Director of Public Programming at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural site and a regular participant in the Museum Association of New York. She encouraged Emily and Taqiyah to attend the conference at a reduced rate as student volunteers. As Henson explained, "In addition to seeking out internships (which any student interested in exploring a museum career should do as soon as possible), attending a professional conference is a great way to learn more about a field and see if it feels 'right'. It's also a great place to get a head start on networking." 

"I was very excited to learn about a networking opportunity for exactly the field I was interested in," Kraft wrote. "Before talking to Professor Henson, I did not realize New York held such a conference; as a student graduating in May, I am interested in any opportunity to get myself in the field and begin to prepare for my future. As a student I was excited about who I would meet and what is currently being discussed in the field."

A view of Lake Placid, a major recreation destination and site of the 1980 Winter Olympics. 

"All in all the conference was a great opportunity to network and put ourselves out there in the field," Kraft explained. "Professor Henson was a big help and she introduced us to many of her colleagues in the field. It would be so nice to see other students go in the future and use the trip as professional exposure."

Kraft and Gibbons met students, faculty, and museum professionals from across the state. Kraft, who is currently exploring graduate programs, learned more about several master's degree programs in Museum Studies, including Syracuse University's: "I was able to network and find out what the program is like. I plan to research further and keep this as a possibility for grad school."

Kraft integrated her new knowledge about museum programming into her Academic Festival presentation on April 20. The presentation was based upon research she did at Warsaw's Museum of the History of Polish Jews for her senior thesis project, which she completed in December 2015. As Kraft explained, museums are rushing to adjust to the expectations of the millennial generation with more interactive, digital, and online components, which creates opportunities in the field for college graduates with relevant skills.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The 2016 Elections: Civic Literacy and Engagement in the History & Political Science Department

The 2016 Presidential Selection Process

The presidential nominating process is chaotic, but not erratic. The single-most relevant force shaping the sequential, front-loaded election calendar has been the drive to maximize a state's influence on the selection of the nominee. The process is shaped by the sometimes colluding, sometimes colliding, often confusing motion of candidates, voters and party members, states, and political party organizations.  

Civic Literacy: Getting Informed

H&G and PLSA
Voter Registration Drive: 2016 
So just how are citizens, especially college-aged voters, to make sense of our uniquely complex presidential selection process? One way is to take more political science classes. For those tuned-out or turned-off by politics, a class or two on history and politics provides a critical toe-hold divorced from popular punditry and media noise. As Kimberly, a Health Care Studies Major, explains, "it is frustrating because sometimes the political process is made to look like a reality show rather than informing voters on the issues."  

After taking a political science course as part of her learning community, Gabby, a Graphic Design major, says what she finds amusing is the “the fact that it isn’t actually an ingenious system meant to confuse people. When you break it down it becomes somewhat simple.”  Jessica, who is majoring in History & Political Science, is following “the election mostly from news alerts I receive on my smartphone and my American Voter in Campaigns course” taught by Dr. Jay Wendland.

Dr. Parshall (Associate Professor of Political Science) is teaching  PSC 233, Democracy in America, a course which asks student to critique the democratic functioning of the American political system. All semester long, her students have been carefully following the nominations, with a special focus on how the current cycle is deviating from the usual script. “We can learn about democracy from a book,” another freshman learning community participant commented, “or we can watch it playing out around us. For me, I learn better by taking in the action." 

Two of  her students are working on honors projects which critique the out-sized influence that Iowa and New Hampshire voters enjoy by virtue of their well-defended early calendar berths. Emily, a Physical Therapy major, explains what she’s learned: “Early state voters are always important, more for momentum than determining the number of delegates a candidate receives. It’s frustrating how often New York doesn’t matter. Excitingly, this time it does.”

The H&P Department's Delegate Tracker which hangs in the hallway outside the departmental suite invites passersby to
learn more about the presidential nominating process and delegate race. 
After her examination of Iowa, Gabby concluded, "I am not a big fan of caucuses, or the fact that some states don’t even matter when it comes their time to vote."  Dr. Parshall is working on a book, Time and (Con)sequence in Presidential Selection Process: The Case for a Same Day National Primary, that challenges the myths of “full, fair, and meaningful participation” in a sequential, front-loaded nominating process.  The work, co-authored with the late Dr. Franco Mattei (University at Buffalo-SUNY), uses a rights-based lens to challenge the fundamental fairness of a winnowing process that leaves some party members (in later voting states) with limited or no choice in choosing their parties’ nominees. 

Cover image Electoral StudiesSome students have been disappointed to learn that New York is a closed primary state, meaning that unless they are affiliated with a political party they cannot take part in the state's presidential preference vote on April 19th. Dr. Wendland (Assistant Professor of Political Science) has recently published an article in Electoral Studies with co-author, Dr. Barbara Norrander, which examines the impact of state registration laws on candidate preference. Their research "demonstrates that the ideological orientations of voters in these two primary settings are quite similar." This challenge to conventional wisdom and prior research "shows how the influence of primary laws on voters’ self-identifications as partisans or independents affects the number and ideological positions of partisans and independents as they vote in presidential primaries held under differing participation rules."

Civic Engagement: Getting Involved
Another way for students to make sense of a complicated electoral process is to directly engage in the political world by taking part in some of the co-curricular activities and events that are regularly sponsored by the History & Political Science Department. As Devnie, an Animation major, explains, it is particularly important for students to become more politically aware:  “They are the future generation, if they start voting when they’re young and get involved in the political process and what’s happening around them, it will help them make the right decisions to build a better world.” 

When Carlos (a Political Science major) turned 18 he told his parents that “the first thing I wanted to do on my birthday was to go get my voter registration card.”  Now, he and others are making sure that their peers are registered to vote as well. Last month, several members of the Pre Law Student Association (PLSA) and History & Government Club held a voter registration drive, helping to sign up new voters and assisting students in making their absentee ballot requests. 

Because this is the first nominating cycle since 1988 in which New York State (by virtue of its later calendar position) will influence the nomination, there is a surge of interest.  As Emily explains, "It matters so much to me because New York is a key player and because it is the first election I am able to vote in."

H&G and PLSA Club members sign up new voters and assist students in requesting absentee ballots at the 2016 Voter Registration Table Event in Wick Center

Carlos and fellow political science major, Brianna, are  pursuing a summer long internship opportunity with Project Vote Smart, a bipartisan organization on the front-line of national voter education efforts.  “As a Political Science student," Brianna explains,  "The decisions of our elected leaders make affect most aspects of our daily lives. So, it is important to be engaged with the political process and gain a better understanding of what each candidate stands for.”

At the AAUW club event, The 2016 Presidential Campaign: What About Women's Issues? student presenters provided summaries of the leading party candidates' stances on issues relevant to women voters. Faculty from the History & Political Science Department were on hand to answer specific questions about the campaigns, but the students drove the discussion. President Jessica Mark explained the importance of such events. "I wish the students at Daemen could know that the election will be a game-changer, and that their votes are valued."

AAUW Club President, Jessica Mark (left) opens the
 forum on The 2016 Presidential Campaign: What About Women's Issues?  

“I am very excited as this election has definitely made me interested in politics than any other election ever has,” says Devnie. For some students, it's the issues that matter. Kimberly is excited that "the topic of how money in politics and corporate finance is now being discussed in this election and is being discussed as a major issue, it's something I’m passionate about.” As she explains, "a lot of young people are very excited by Sanders' message of corporate finance reform, making state colleges’ tuition free, and breaking up the big banks.” 

AAUW Student Club members provided a review of the presidential candidates'
positions and voting records on key issues of concern to women. 

Many students are particularly intrigued by the possibility of a contested Republican nominating convention, something which has not happened on the Republican side since the brokered convention of 1948 and Reagan's challenge of incumbent President Gerald Ford in 1976. The last Democratic convention to go beyond a first ballot was in 1952. "If Donald Trump doesn't win enough delegates at the convention, I am eager to see the results of that," Kimberly states. For Gabby, the prospect prompts a more mixed reaction: “I’m kind of terrified and excited to see what will come of it. If it does end up going to a contested convention, it will make a great story to tell to others. I can say, ‘My first year voting there was a contested convention and Donald Trump ran and it was crazy!’” 

Several students and faculty went to see VT Senator Benie Sanders speak at UB.
Photo credit: Mary Fox
Jessica is more interested in the Democratic race, which because of its proportionate delegate allocation rules, has remained a tight race. "Bernie Sanders, to me, is an idealist and Hillary Clinton, to me, is a realist.” Kimberly agrees, noting that “A lot of young people are very excited about Bernie Sanders and his message of corporate finance reform, making state colleges’ tuition free, and breaking up the big banks.” There was a contingent of Daemen College faculty, staff and students at the recent Sanders rally. Many will also be attending the upcoming events of the other presidential aspirants who are scheduled to make appearances in WNY. Stefan, a Paralegal major, traveled to Syracuse to take part in a rally for Clinton and even managed to snag a selfie with the candidate.

Daemen College student, Stefan Foster, traveled to hear Hillary Clinton speak in Syracuse, NY on April 1 and managed to
get a selfie with the Democratic candidate and front-runner. 

Others are organizing ride-shares to the Trump rally in Buffalo this weekend. It is a chance to get up-close with the candidates and witness presidential campaigns in the full swing that typically bypasses New York State. Many from the Daemen Community are taking full advantage of the opportunity. As Emily notes, "It's not over yet; anything could happen."

The excitement and interest will be far from over next semester when the History & Political Science Department will focus even more sharply on presidential history and politics. In addition to courses in American Politics, the Department will be offering its Seminar on the Presidency (PSC 415) an upper-division core fulfilling competency requirements in Civic Engagement and Contextual Integration. Politics and the Media and American Political Parties courses will also feature the 2016 elections and provide the foundation for the newly launched Political Communications Minor: An interdisciplinary minor (Political Science and English/Journalism) for students interested in careers in political journalism, government, international affairs, political campaigns, or for graduate study in the fields of political science, communication, or journalism.

The History and Government Club and Pre Law Student Association are already planning a student-to-student panel discussion which will focus on 2016 electoral issues which most affect their demographic cohorts. There will also be the quadrennial election-night watching party, a staple in the History & Political Science Department since 2000 when the party ended well before there was a declared winner. In 2008, roughly 30 students stayed until 2:00 in the morning just to witness President Obama's victory speech on the big screen in Alumni Lounge. 

Students at the 2008 Election Night Party

The 2012 Election Night Party co-hosted by the H&G Club and the Black
Student Association. 

As part of the History & Politics Speaker Series, A People's Forum on the American Presidency (October 1, 2016) will feature several major scholars in History and Political Science with expertise on presidential memory and legacy. This event, expected to be a major draw for the broader community, will offer students an unprecedented opportunity to learn first-hand from preeminent presidential scholars and to frame class research projects and think-tank grants around the theme of presidential reputations, character, and performance.

The focus on the 2016 Elections reflects the History & Political Science Department's commitment to Civic Literacy and Engagement which are at the core of the Daemen College Mission. As Brianna frames it, informed engagement in the political world is an indispensable component of a well-functioning democracy and to the ability to effectuate change: "As the upcoming generation, it is our responsibility to influence the direction that our country takes in the coming years. There are many forms that this influence can take, but it is important to be aware of our current political situation because government is one of the most effective tools to we have to shape our society.”