Students raise questions about Trump’s 1st year

Samuel Nusbaum, Contributing Writer

Whether it was for extra credit or for curiosity, students packed the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union to hear a discussion about President Donald Trump’s first year in office.

Dennis Malak, a member of the Charleston city council, and Kevin Anderson, a political science professor, led the discussion. From his use of social media to his attacks on the media and North Korea, students expressed their questions on notecards that became topics for the panelists to analyze.

Student Body President Luke Young was the moderator for the panel discussion and began it by directing the talks to Trump’s use of Twitter.

Anderson started with a response about the generational divide in reaction to Trump’s twitter habits.

Anderson said older generations expect the president to step in front of a podium and make announcements like past presidents have. He said younger people see the tweets and assume the details will come out later.

Anderson said any announcements on Twitter have been taken less seriously by all generations because of the limited amount of content that can be relayed because of the character limit Twitter imposes.

Even with these limits, the tweets put the American people in the mind of the president, Anderson said.

“I know what the president is thinking about,” Anderson said. “The president is thinking about tax cuts, the president is thinking about terrorism.”

Malak said the media gets frustrated with it because when they report on tweets there is nothing to elaborate on, except to say they happened and move on from there.

Regarding Trump’s attack on the media, Malak said it is important for the individual to check their news sources to make sure there is not misinformation being spread, especially on social media.

Malak said when determining news credibility people should ask, “Can they quote sources? Is it confirmed not just by the one outlet you like to look at, but by other outlets across the spectrum?”

Anderson said attacking the media and discrediting them is nothing new as far as politicians go. Besides President Trump, former President Bill Clinton aired his frustration with the media in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Anderson said just because a person does not like what the media may be saying, does not mean it is false.

Young segued the conversation into North Korea and the harsh words being exchanged with the U.S.

Anderson said the United States and North Korea never signed a peace treaty, only a cease-fire.

“We sort of did that cool thing where we reached the stalemate and the U.S. declared ‘we won’ and just went home,” Anderson said.  “It didn’t really resolve the situation.”

Malak said it is almost impossible to de-escalate the tension because North Koreans are told to hate America, but he did offer a possible starting point.

“If you want to stop it you have to get China involved. (Get) China and Russia (involved) because North Korea supplies a lot of their coal, so it is a major economic issue for those two countries,” Malak said.

Malak said he liked the topics that were covered as they were things on everyone’s mind. He said talking about social media and how the reactions to it change by demographics was a challenge.

Austin Mejdrich, a graduate student in political science, was glad North Korea came up in the panel, but said he was hoping to hear more about the economic side of things since the election.

“Events like these are good because everyone has an idea about these topics,” Mejdrich said.

Anderson said the discussion was important because it allowed students to become more involved in the issues of the day.

“If you did not know anything about these issues, we gave a good overview,” he said.

Samuel Nusbaum can be reached at

581-2812 or at [email protected]