Border Wars: Scoping out the Wall
On Saturday, April 8 at 4 p.m., students poured into Newbold Auditorium for the last Agora of the semester, entitled Adventist Perspectives on Immigration and the Wall. The event, allowing two speakers to present opposing positions on President Trump’s immigration policies and his proposed border wall, was a part of a series entitled Border Wars: A Summit on Refugees and Immigration, for which there were two other events on the prior Thursday and Friday.
John Nay, a former U.S. Ambassador to Suriname and an adjunct professor for the Department of History & Political Science, advocated against the building of the proposed border wall, and Jake Metzner, the outgoing President of the Adventist Intercollegiate Association, advocated for the construction of the border wall. Gabriel Morales (first year, Master of Divinity), hosted the event, and Connect Andrews, a graduate student initiative and ministry of Campus Ministries, sponsored the event.
Nay and Metzner answered questions from four categories: Economy, Opportunity, Security and Biblical Perspectives. Audience members were able to hear how the proposed border wall either financially benefited or hurt the U.S. and how Seventh-day Adventist doctrines and Biblical instruction played into the conversation. Due to the flow of conversation, a period of time was also spent discussing whether immigrants truly posed a security threat to the country.
In his opening statement, Nay voiced his thoughts on the nature of the conversation to this point.
“I think there has been a lot of extreme rhetoric on both sides,” Nay said. “I think it’s important that we listen to each other.”
Likewise, in his opening statement, Metzner concurred.
“I’m honored to have been approached about coming and participating in an event like this,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of constructive dialogue—we need to have talks like this. Campus Ministries has done a really great job facilitating these kinds of discussions.”
Attendees wanted to understand how Metzner justified building the wall, as well as why Nay felt it was unnecessary.
“I was really curious to hear the rationale for the wall,” said Esther Battle (senior, sociology). “I wanted to gain further understanding from someone whose views differ from my own. I’m glad I attended and I hope Campus Ministries, Connect Andrews and The Agora team continue to encourage these kinds of provocative conversations.”
Morales also fielded several audience questions directed towards the representatives for each position.
Ending with The Agora Creed as is tradition, audience members and participants recited a passage from 1 Corinthians which says, in part, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
While the event ended around 6 p.m., several crowd members approached the stage afterwards to speak with Nay and Metzner, and other pockets of students gathered for further discussion.
“This is important,” said Lukonde Mwinga (senior, business administration). “It’s important because The Agora provides [us] the ability to talk and ask questions in a space with diverse opinions.”
To learn more about The Agora, to suggest topics and to get involved, contact Garrison Hayes (second year, Master of Divinity) at email@example.com.