Schuyler Schouten ’03, who helped organize Sunday’s student panel on the world after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said he never expected a quiet discussion.
“We brought together people who we knew would fundamentally disagree,” Schouten said. “We knew it would be contentious. We’re the Yale community; let’s sit down and talk.”
The six panelists Schouten helped bring together spoke in front of about 90 students in the second event in the “Democracy, Security, and Justice; Perspectives on the American Future” discussion series. The discussion in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, organized by professors John Gaddis and Cynthia Farrar, dealt with personal reactions to the Sept.11 hijackings and assessed Yale’s role in the ongoing international crisis.
“We are part of the elite of our country. It is our responsibility, our duty, to heed the call of leadership of our generation,” said panelist Ryan Floyd ’03, who has decided to pursue a career in U.S. foreign policy as a result of the terrorist attacks. Floyd said lives at Yale have been fundamentally altered and that America cannot return to normalcy in its thought.
Another panelist, New Journal editor Anya Kamenetz ’02, reflected on the role of an academic institution like Yale in a country with renewed patriotism.
“I wonder if the idea of university is eclipsed by the other thought — the thought of winning war,” she said.
Panelist Ewan MacDougall ’03, who is an officer candidate for the United States Marine Corps in addition to his duties as a Yale student, said the events of Sept. 11 deepened his desire to defend his nation.
“My country needs me, and needs each one of you too,” MacDougall said.
Afghan-American panelist Nilofar Gardezi ’03 took a far different perspective as she said she finds it difficult to support military operations against her native country. Pointing out that American patriotism can be exclusionary, Gardezi emphasized American support of Afghan civilians.
“If we work with Afghan people and help with the relief effort, it would be more productive and humanitarian than decimating an already suffering populace,” she said.
Dalton Jones ’03, a panelist who is involved in campus activism, encouraged the audience to examine possible American causes of the terrorist attacks.
“We need to think carefully about what our role is and has been in creating the situation today,” Jones said. “Of the 100 largest economies today, 51 are corporations; 49 are countries.”
After the student panelists delivered their speeches, there was a question-and-answer session with the audience.
Gaddis said he established the panels to promote intellectual debate and that consensus is not the intended objective.
“These people represent real diversity — not of color or race, but new lenses to look at these events through,” he said.