The political nature of the process of impeachment was an important theme in a town hall meeting hosted by Gonzaga Wednesday evening.
As the United States Senate gears up to begin the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, GU’s political science department and The School of Law provided students with an opportunity to gain a constitutional and historical understanding of impeachment.
Students from The School of Law and undergraduate programs gathered in Jepson’s Wolff Auditorium to ask questions about the articles and process of impeachment against Trump to Joe Gardner, associate professor of political science and pre-law adviser, and to Stephen Sepinuck, the Fredrick N. and Barbara T. Curley professor of law at the law school.
Each professor spent 15 minutes covering constitutional language regarding impeachment with a focus on how to understand what is considered to be a high crime and misdemeanor. Following this, the floor was opened up to questions from the audience, prompting a riveting and lively discussion.
While Gardner and Sepinuck approached questions from a nonpartisan, academic perspective, they focused on the idea that presidential impeachment itself is inherently political.
“It’s all politics,” Gardner said. “It’s the people, all of you at the ballot box, the public sentiments, who determine which acts are worthy of impeachment.”
“There is just so much in the media that it feels almost impossible to know what is actually true,” said Hannah Presken, a sophomore political science and international studies major.
Presken said she attended the event to broaden her vocabulary on the topic of impeachment.
“I feel like lately, learning about politics has become a taboo thing," Presken said. "People don’t want to get into it because they think it creates sides.”
Sepinuck agreed that events like these are put on for that purpose, to allow people look into each side.
“This event is for the Gonzaga community,” Sepinuck said. “It is absolutely essential that institutions explore topics like this.”
It can be difficult to broaden horizons beyond school life, however, it's important aspect of knowing oneself, according to Presken.
“It has an affect on who they are and what they believe," Presken said.