Kean University, Part Of The People

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Kean University, Part Of The People
Joanna Kristine Ninal

Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 served as National Constitution Day in the United States. In honor of this day, Kean University's Departments of History and Political Science, the College of Liberal Arts and the Kean University Pre-Law Society presented an hour-long lecture titled, "Resolving Constitutional Conflict: Separation of Powers in the Age of Trump," in the Liberty Hall Carriage House. 

This lecture took place on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 and started at 12:30 p.m. Within the first few minutes, the Liberty Hall Carriage House became full of students who were interested in the topics brought up throughout the lecture.

Topics that were brought into discussion related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Bill of Rights, social media between Congress and the political parties, the separation of powers and United States President Donald Trump.

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Jonathan Mercantini, opened the lecture by briefly touching upon the topics that would be further discussed by the three professors who were the main speakers of the lecture.

Kean University's political science professor, Dr. Gil Kahn, history professor, Dr. Abigail Perkiss and political science professor, Dr. Robert P. Hunt were the panelists during this lecture.

Students like Jevon Burkett, sophomore communications major, learned about this lecture from taking Hunt's politics class. Other students such as Qua-Kiesha Harp, junior criminal justice major, heard about this lecture from her other professors. 

Many of the topics discussed were heavily questioned by the professors. Hunt expressed his concern in relation to DACA and what effect it would have on the people of United States.

"Does anybody really want to throw out the educated and accomplished young people who have jobs? Some serving the military? Really?" asked Hunt. 

Hunt argued, "Now some people believe the president is pretty much free, to do what he wants, with as much consent out of Congress as he can get." Hunt believes this is problematic.

Questions like this made students think about the situation the United States is in. During this lecture, students were able to take a free Declaration of Independence, to which some students opened and read throughout the topics.

"Right now, we’re living in a political moment where the GOP (Republican Party) controls both Congress and the presidency," said Perkiss. "And while the Supreme Court is meant to be politically neutral, the bench is comprised of a majority of justices who lean, to varying degrees, ideologically conservative. This is a relatively rare moment in the nation’s history."  

This speech not only opened the eyes of history majors, but students from different majors were able to realize how important and informational being aware with today's news and politics are.

Looking back at political history, the professors were able to show students how the past has and always will affect the present.

"There is a lot of anger right now," Perkiss added, to which many students nodded their head in agreement.

After the speech, the panelists opened the floor for discussion. Students were free to ask questions in regard to what each professor had to say. Some students had a lot to say, but majority were stunned with all the information presented to them.

"The separation of powers does not exist," said Dr. Kahn. "If the institutions worked together, we wouldn't have this issue." 

It is always a benefit to know what the laws and regulations are in the country one resides in. Being well-aware of what the Constitution has written for the people can prevent someone being revoked of their rights. 

For more information of what was said during the lecture, students and faculty can contact Professor Abigail Perkiss, Department of History, at or visit the department at Townsend room 117.

about the author

Joanna Kristine Ninal, Staff Writer

Joanna Kristine Ninal is an English education double major with minors in Asian and Chinese studies. Ninal works as a Staff Writer for The Cougar's Byte since fall 2016. Ninal loves to play video games, such as “Overwatch” and “Final Fantasy XIV”, as well as create projects such as videos, stories and scripts in her free time. She loves to read and write, especially dramatic and romantic themes in young adult literature like the Harry Potter series and the To All The Boys I've Loved Before series. Her goal in life is to be an English teacher and travel around to teach in countries such as Japan, China and South Korea.